Don Larway, 2/12/54 - 11/10/19
Don Larway 2/12/54 - 11/10/19
a.k.a. "Dart", as he was known to friends passed away this month. He was one of the kindest, friendliest, and
nicest people I’ve ever met. He was always cheerful and ready with a smile, sometimes with teeth out
(courtesy of being tripped on a breakaway and landing on his front teeth). The source of his nickname "Dart" is
in question, nobody is sure who came up with it. What is clear is that it was most assuredly directly attributed
to his speed on the ice.
Dart was born in Canada which explains at least two things about him- his good nature, his love of hockey,
and his fondness for beer. Okay, that’s three things.
He played for several teams, including the Houston Aeros of the WHA during the Gordie Howe era. It was
during that time that he befriended and mentored (?) an Aeros stick boy named David "DH" Nordstrom, who would go
on to become equipment manager for the Houston Rockets for many years, including the championships.
That friendship quickly grew into brotherhood and the two of them were, let’s say, not shy about enjoying
Houston’s night life. They were frequent patrons of the music venues on Washington Street, including
Rockefeller’s, Hey Hey, the Bonton, and the Satellite Lounge. (Dart was an early supporter of the 4GDB
project.) Stories of their many late-nights/early mornings are legendary and plentiful. None of them will
be repeated here.
In 1978 Dart added a very cool line to his resume. He was playing for the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA.
The Racers had just signed a rookie phenom by the name of Wayne Gretzky, who was too young for the NHL.
(The WHA did not have an age restriction on signing young players). Gretzky played a total of eight games
for Indy. During the fifth game Dart assisted on Gretzky’s first professional goal. (the story is that he scored his
second goal four seconds later).
After retiring from professional hockey Dart began a second career as a cameraman, shooting local sports
teams- Rockets, the new Aeros, Cougars, Astros and others. It was during this time (mid 80’s) that I had
the great fortune to meet and begin a long friendship with Dart and DH. Through them I met a wide group
of notable and colorful folks, including Tim "TJ" Johnson, who for decades was one of the best professional
photographers in Houston. It wasn’t long until I learned of another of Dart’s loves, golf. He, TJ, and I played
well over a hundred rounds at many of the fine municipal courses in our area, most of them at Gus Wortham.
When I became Saturday morning starter at Gussie, Dart got on as a marshall, meaning we could play free.
We used the shit out of that perk. Dart’s swing had a definite hockey influence but more obvious was that he
had not lost any of his competitive nature. It was fun, but serious, too. Also, he continued to play hockey in an
amateur league at the old Sharpstown Ice Center. One did not want to challenge him on the ice. Period.
There’s so much more but in the end it was Dart’s genuine good nature and cheerfulness that I remember
most. He was a good man and a good friend and will be sorely and sadly missed. He joins TJ and DH in what
we hope is a big party in the sky.
We miss you, all three of you. You’re irreplaceable and your passings have left holes that don’t go away.
Making your friendships was an honor and a privilege and a whole lot of fun. Rest in peace.