WGHSA dedicated the 2001-2002 season to one of the early pioneers of the WGHSA, Bunker Burr, who died before that season started.
Bunker and Jim Goodale, who founded the WGHSA in 1973, ran the WGHSA program together from the beginning. Then players were divided into two groups: an older one that could skate and a younger one that couldn’t. Bunker took over the non-skating group where he taught his two grandsons Trevor and Jesse Johnson his love of the game.
And did he ever love the game. He started playing it in Washington in the 1920s on ponds near the Mayflower Inn, which were the center of local hockey activity. Hockey had a long tradition in Washington and was played there in the 1890s, even before basketball was invented.
It was an outdoor sport then. No one had artificial rinks and Bunker played wherever there was ice – many times on the Gunnery tennis courts which were flooded for the Gunnery teams.
That was a great time for Washington Hockey. Bunker’s older brother, Freddy, became captain of the 1940 Yale team and is listed as one of Yale’s all-time greats.
Tommy Rodd, who also grew up playing at the same time with Bunker in Washington, was also a stellar player at Yale before WWII and was invited to try out for the 1940 Olympic team – a team that never played a game because of WWII
And Bunker wasn’t so bad either. He captained the Gunnery team for the 1938-39 season. He then went to Wesleyan for two years, which sadly had no hockey team and then he joined the Air Force for WWII.
After the war, Bunker never stopped skating and playing. In the late 1940s, Robertson’s Bleachery built an outdoor artificial rink in New Milford (which was later moved to Canterbury School). The Bleachery formed a team to play in the Atlantic Hockey League. The team consisted of nine Canadians -- who theoretically worked at the Bleachery – and Bunker – and some of his local hockey pals.
The team became known as the Housatonic Tomahawks, and played several times in the old Madison Square Garden. Bunker kept a program from a game there to prove it. He was still skating when, at the age of 54, he joined Jim Goodale in getting the WGHSA started.
Bunker had a great way with kids, and when the younger group of kids learned to skate and were formed into a competitive team, Bunker served as their coach.
He had a great sense of humor and was a superb role model for kids and coaches. His philosophy was -- let the kids have a good time -- make sure they try hard -- win a few -- lose a few -- and leave the game at the rink when it is over.