Olympic Missing Links, Part 8

Today, we are continuing our look into Olympians for whom we believe to have identified their date of death but, for whatever reason, we are unable to connect the information, such as obituary or public record, conclusively to the athlete. Last week we took a look into the Middle East; today, we are focusing on our other area of expertise: Canada.

 

Dick Wyndham – Member of Canada’s swimming delegation to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics

Dick Wyndham’s swimming career peaked in the early 1930s and, although funded privately, he was selected to represented Canada in the 200 metres breaststroke at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. There, he was eliminated in the opening round. Originally from British Columbia, Wyndham headed east after the Games to compete and train in Ottawa, but his career soon floundered and he disappeared from the headlines. By scanning the British Columbia Death Index, we found the registration of a Richard David Hayward Wyndham who died on December 12, 1991 at the age of 80, but the obituary we located for him in the Vancouver Sun was inconclusive. Since we do not know the swimmer Wyndham’s year of birth or full name, we cannot prove conclusively that this is the Olympian, particularly as he is known to have moved away from British Columbia at a young age.

 

Johnny Keller – Member of Canada’s boxing delegation to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics

After winning a bronze medal in the bantamweight division of the boxing tournament at the 1930 British Empire Games, Montreal native Johnny Keller’s next major stop was the 1932 Los Angles Olympics, where he served as the team’s captain. There, he fought as a featherweight, but lost his first bout and was eliminated. He embarked upon a brief professional career after the Games, but it was not particularly successful and petered out relatively quickly. It was the Quebec Death Index that gave us a lead in this case, with the only Johnny Keller of appropriate age being born August 9, 1903 and dying December 15, 1985. His obituary in the Montreal Gazette, however, described him as a “[w]ell known interior decorator for the past forty-eight years” and made no mention of a boxing career, and thus we are able only to speculate on an Olympic connection, since we do not know Keller’s year of birth, let alone the exact date.

(Pictured on page 32 of the May 7, 1979 edition of the Montreal Gazette)

Larry McGuinness – Member of Canada’s equestrian delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Larry McGuinness, born June 5, 1921, represented Canada in equestrian’s three-day event at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and placed 29th individually. Although this was his only Olympic appearance, he had a long and distinguished international equestrian career and was also a businessman who ran the family distillery. In 1977, however, he went bankrupt and after that we had a difficult time tracing him with any certainty. We did uncover obituaries and records of a Lawrence Joseph McGuinness (which matches the Olympian’s full name) who died on December 27, 2017 in Florida. This Larry McGuinness, however, was born June 24, 1920, which would align with his age in many of the reports about him, but unfortunately the obituaries do not give any details that would help confirm that he was the equestrian.

 

Alfred Stefani – Member of Canada’s coxed eights squad at the 1948 London Olympics

Unlike the other three Olympians we have discussed today, we know relatively little about Alfred Stefani, born c. 1922, who represented Canada in the coxed eights tournament at the 1948 London Olympics and was eliminated in the semifinals. We could not uncover anything else about the Olympian, but we did find the relatively sparse obituary of an Alfred Stefani of Valencia, California, who died October 2, 1922. Death records indicate that this Alfred Stefani was born on August 28, 1926 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, but otherwise offer no other evidence. Shipping lists for the journey to the 1948 London Games do indicate that Stefani was born in 1926, rather than 1922, and while we have contacted a relative of the Alfred Stefani listed in the obituary, we have yet to receive definitive confirmation that the two are connected.

 

That is our entry for the day! We will continue our exploration of this topic next week but, in the meantime, we wish all our readers a Happy Holidays and hope that you will join us once again!

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