Friday, April 03, 2020
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GRIMSBY - He was thought of as a man without a past, but everyone knew Scotty.
"That phone has never stopped ringing," said an employee standing by the front door of the funeral home.
"I don't think there'd have been more activity if a mayor had died. There are all kinds of flowers now and the florist says more are on the way."
The town is mourning the loss of Jack C. 'Scotty' Laughton, who died of a heart attack at the age of 63 last week.
He was found in bed Saturday afternoon by the superintendent of his apartment building. The coroner said he had been dead for about five days.
Police spent long hours on the telephone, following a thin trail that might lead them to next-of-kin. Finally they found a cousin in Grand Bend who hadn't seen Scotty for years.Word of death.
This week, word of his death spread throughout town. People realized that short stocky fellow had meant something to them.
In his apartment building, residents took up a collection for a memorial donation.
And the town's youngsters remembered. Scotty worked as a timekeeper at minor hockey games for years.
And every lad who'd been a Boy Seout could still hear that gruff bellow he'd unleash whenever they got out of line.
"We've had kids come to the door, just wondering when the service was going to be," said Mike Cavanaugh, director of the Stonehouse-Whitcomb Funeral Home.
"And the people who phone just seem to want to know that something is being done. They knew he didn't have anyone."
No one's sure exactly when Scotty came to town, but 10 years ago is probably the best guess.
He grew up in London, Ont. and graduated with a degree in engineering from the University of Western Ontario. He served a stint overseas during the war and worked for about 20 years on roads with the province in northern Ontario and finally in Niagara.
He had occasional problems with alcohol, but Scotty stayed on the job until heart problems forced him out a few years ago.
It was around that time that Walter Klabunde of Lewiston, N.Y. first met Scotty.
The 76-year old retired chemist is a member of the Hawk Migration Association of North America. Scotty had been an avid birder since his days up north.
The lookout atop the Niagara escarpment just above Grimsby offers a superb location for watch ing hawks in the spring.
Scotty and Mr. Klabunde were responsible to their association to monitor the hawk flights on. weekdays from March 1 to the end of May.
And every morning, the Lewiston man drove in and picked up his buddy on the main street.
Scotty would be waiting by the mall, equipped with his work boots, green army pants, plaid jacket and big binoculars. People saw him standing there and knew it was hawk time again.
For up to eight hours a day, the pair would scan the skies.
"Scotty loved the birds," Mr. Klabunde said. "We'd see up to 16,000 hawks in a season. It was pretty exciting for both of us.
"I'll be starting to come down again in March. I'm sure going to miss him."
Scotty was buried with his parents in Parkhill, a village about 30 miles (48 Kilometres) west of London.