When we were school kids in the early 1950s I knew him simply as “Lugs”, a very good defensive back at all levels of minor hockey, playing on championship teams every season.
By the mid-1950s, everyone in town and in the Maritimes knew that “Lugs” was a star with the St. Francis Xavier X-Men winning the intercollegiate championships every year he wore the blue and white school uniform. Antigonish Generating Station.
If you were a golf lover at Abercrombie Golf Club, you also recognized him as the “Lugs Rae” when he won the Provincial Junior Championships, and later when he was the Men’s Club Champion.
As he graduated from the medical profession, “Lugs Rae” was even better known by his lifetime nickname.
It wasn’t until he passed away at the age of 88 earlier this month that I realized his full name was James Robert Rae, but even in his obituary, “Lugs” appeared in his identification. .
And it wasn’t until I read the obituary that I understood where the nickname came from. That was the explanation: âBob earned the nickname Lugs because of his prodigious ears and their similarity to the Scottish Lugge gap earbuds. The name stuck, as did the ears, becoming better known as Dr Lugs than Dr Rae and Grampie Lugs to the grandchildren.
No matter what his name was, he would always have been known as a star and champion in athletics, an outstanding physician in the medical profession, a superhuman being to family and friends.
He represented all that was good in people.
And so, I start with his accomplishments as one of the best defensemen ever produced in Pictou County, thanks to his early years playing for the Our Lady of Lourdes teams who have won championships every year.
He has clearly become number one in my books.
His most amazing achievement, in my opinion, was the fact that he played on championship teams in Nova Scotia and the Maritimes – get it – every season he was on the ice, from rookies to college kids. .
At Lourdes Parish in Stellarton, he helped win provincial and maritime titles at the high school, midget and juvenile levels in the late 1940s.
At St. FX, the story was similar: a valued leader in champion clubs Nova Scotia and the Maritimes during the four years he played.
It was a time when the Xaverians accomplished more than any Nova Scotia hockey team. Consider the facts: From 1949-50 to 1962-63, X topped the college rankings, winning 14 straight titles in as many years. At that time, they had been crowned winners of the Maritimes 37 times since 1906.
What made Lugs Rae’s story even more remarkable was the fact that hockey wasn’t the only sport he excelled at.
In golf, he won two consecutive junior titles in Nova Scotia while playing in Abercrombie, he led the St. FX varsity golf team to championship status, and later was club champion on his home journey.
Lugs, for his successes, was inducted into the St. FX Sports Hall of Fame and the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame.
The point is, he was much more than an exceptional athlete.
This assessment was well explained in his obituary: âLugs lived a life of life with great humility, building a loving family, having a lasting impact on Nova Scotia health care, and a true legacy at St. FX as as one of Pictou County’s greatest athletes. “
That says a lot.
If he hadn’t done anything else of importance, he would still be fondly remembered in Pictou and Antigonish counties and beyond.
But it wouldn’t have been Dr. Lugs Rae.
He has been recognized for being just as exceptional, just as distinguished, in the field of health.
After graduating from X, he received his MD with Distinction from Dalhousie University in 1968, after which he received his Harvard University Cardiology Fellowship at Boston General Hospital.
After a short period at St. Martha’s Hospital in Antigonish, he spent much of his career at the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax (most recently the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Center).
As in sports, his contributions have never been overlooked. Among the honors, he received a Distinguished Service Award.
During the years that he was a blessing to many grateful patients, he never lost interest in his alma mater, chairing the alumni association for four years in the 1970s.
When I interviewed him years ago, I discovered, when he talked about his reputation in hockey, that he preferred to give credit to his teammates rather than himself.
True, he played in teams which had many talented players.
For example, in Lourdes his teammates included goalkeeper Bobby Day, who later became a very good Roman Catholic priest, Ralph Cameron, Billy Billick, Bert Dalling, Ducky MacLean, Danny and Frank (Danky) Dorrighton, and Ron Cheek , who all had great careers in senior hockey.
In his Xaverian years and the consecutive successes there, Bobby Day was in the net for all four championships. Other teammates with the blue and white included Jackie (Lily) MacLellan, brothers Eugene and Eddie Swartzack, Kenny Flynn, Paul McManaman, Jackie Keating, Geno Scatalone, Sonny Burke and Chebot Cormier.
When I became a sports editor for the student newspaper, The Xaverian Weekly, a year after graduation, most students on campus were still talking about previous seasons.
I don’t want to let go of the obituary without citing yet another brief passage that says a lot about the man of many talents; the man who, with his wife Lorraine Smith, also of New Glasgow, lived 65 years of marriage; the man who leaves behind four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
I think the 15 words really sum up the life of Dr James Robert (Lugs) Rae, whether we remember him as Lugs, Dr. Lugs, Lugsie, Papa or Grandpa.
Lugs, he said, âloved his family, hockey, golf and ice cream. Not necessarily in that particular order.