The owner and general manager of the Peninsula Panthers is mourning the death of the team’s longtime photographer, who was also a fixture around local playing fields and rinks.
The Panthers released news of Gordon Lee’s death Monday on their Twitter page, with responses flooding in from community members.
Pete Zubersky said Lee lived for his photography. “He captures the emotion of whatever it is,” Zubersky said. “He would catch the real essence of each subject. He had a very, very, very small group of people around him and I think his whole life was pictures.”
Zubersky first met Lee in 1999 when Zubersky’s son Craig played for the now-defunct Victoria Salsa B.C. Junior A hockey team as a call-up from the Peninsula Panthers.
“I saw him taking pictures and I said, ‘can you get some pictures of my son,’” Zubersky recalled. “And when he showed me the pictures, I was ‘wow, these are amazing.’ So I got him to take a bunch more and then I said, ‘how would you like to come out and take some pictures for the Panthers.’ He has been with us ever since.”
Lee also shot for several minor sports associations around Greater Victoria.
“The guy was everywhere,” said Zubersky, who called Lee the most-known personality in sports photography in Greater Victoria. This said, Lee had a special relationship with the Panthers as he made players feel at ease during formal shots while spending extra time and effort to capture special moments.
“I think he felt a real affiliation to the Peninsula Panthers,” said Zubersky. “He would never ever miss a game on the road or at home. I think he enjoyed being with people who cared about him.”
With such a deep connection to the team, it was no surprise to see the countless voices, including former players, expressing their sadness about Lee’s death, while also expressing their appreciation for his professional and personal qualities.
It was that dedication to his craft that alerted the team that something was wrong.
Zubersky and his wife Coreen would often visit Lee in his studio when they didn’t see him at the rink. But in the recent days and weeks, they couldn’t connect with him.
“He was really close to us personally, so it was so strange,” said Zubersky. “I have been trying to get a hold of him, Coreen’s been really trying to get a hold of him. Two or three days ago, she called all the hospitals.”
Lee was later found dead in his apartment.
Zubersky could not speak to the cause of his death but noted Lee had been having problems with his heart and had been in and out of hospital.
Ultimately, Zubersky hopes a memorial will give the public a chance to celebrate Lee’s life.
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