When I was in grade 2 or 3, this big guy (he seemed huge at the time) starting coming to my school to help out in class. His name was Mike Schemmer but everyone called him “Buff.” His mom was a teacher, and she was friends with my teacher Mrs. Armstrong. Buff helped kids in class, acted as a crossing guard and was especially involved in gym classes and sports.
When we went to high school, it seemed like Buff kind of went along with us. Again, he was a fixture around school, coaching various sports teams for both boys and girls. He was the coach for my grade 8 basketball team, and the main thing I remember about being on the team, besides my own suckiness and the single basket I made in a game for the entire season, was how at the end of the season he made kind of a scrapbook about the season with little profiles of each player and a rundown of all our games.
Later on, he started to get into drama – when I was in grade 10, he directed a Halloween play. Ours was a really small high school, so the drama teacher usually only mounted a spring production. I flubbed my audition for a part, badly, but Buff let me be stage manager, which was a lot of fun too.
For anyone who went to school in Deep Cove between 1980 and now, Buff was a part of their lives. He coached more teams and directed more plays, and also got into organizing sports events and writing and directing his own plays. He also became a special education teacher. Kids knew him as a coach, teacher, friend, and leader.
I always felt a little intimidated by Buff. He was such a big guy and had this deep voice, and he would kind of laugh at you if you acted like a goof. I saw him again not too long ago at a baby shower, of all places. He lived in the suite of my friend’s house, and he braved the room full of women briefly to congratulate my former classmate on her first baby. I felt kind of shy about seeing him; now I wish I had at least said a proper hello.
I just found out last night that Buff died. He jumped off a bridge four weeks ago and I somehow missed seeing any news coverage of the event and the surrounding circumstances. There was an “accusation” made against him to the RCMP; the investigation has now been officially closed. No one else came forward with any reports that we know of. We’ll never know what he was thinking or why he had to do it.
But I have only good memories of Buff. He gave his time and energy to a lot of kids – it’s too bad that 1,000 people had to show up at his funeral to demonstrate the impact he had on the community.

Hey Buff – thank you, and rest in peace.

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