A grandfather’s way of healing — Hockey scholarship established for kitsap youths in memory of grandson

Ken Blair decided to turn his grandson’s death into a memorial scholarship fund, something to remember the young man by. But, not just any scholarship — a hockey one.

Losing a loved one is never easy.

Ken Blair decided to turn his grandson’s death into a memorial scholarship fund, something to remember the young man by. But, not just any scholarship — a hockey one.

His grandson, Pearce Forcier, loved playing hockey and mentoring young children. He and his younger brother were one of the first group of kids to play hockey when the league started at the Bremerton Ice Center, so Blair and his family are keeping Pearce’s passion going with the Pearce Forcier Memorial Hockey Scholarship.

“As a way to heal and help, we decided to start a scholarship to help kids play who can’t afford it,” said Blair, 64, of Poulsbo.

Much of the money for the scholarship comes from art work that Blair sells or fundraisers and raffles at hockey games. Also a Navy veteran, Blair did stained-glass work for 35 years but now focuses his art on recycled driftwood and copper sculptures. Some of his work is displayed at the Verksted Gallery in Poulsbo.

Blair said he had a close bond with Pearce because he was his first grandson.

“We had that connection, that bond. He went everywhere I went,” Blair said last Thursday.

Pearce died in July 2010 when he got caught in a riptide off the coast of Oregon. He was 20 years old.

Derek Donald, the ice center’s general manager, said the hockey community is like its own family. When the center heard of the young man’s death, they wanted to help out in any way possible.

“He was an example of one of those good kids that everyone likes being around,” Donald said of Pearce.

Blair added that Pearce was the oldest of his cousins and the younger ones were always hanging off of him like an octopus’ tentacles. He was caring and compassionate, Blair said.

The hockey league’s first season was in 2003. There are more than 150 active youths that play hockey at the center and some come as far as Port Townsend and Sequim but mostly are from Kitsap County, said Donald.

The hockey scholarship in Pearce’s name was established a year ago. While the fund is still in its infancy, Blair said they were able to sponsor a 6-year-old this past season and hope to provide full scholarships to several Kitsap youths next season.

Blair said the hockey scholarship has been filed as a nonprofit and he does as much paperwork as he does fundraising. He also has a board of directors of four people.

While hockey was an activity that Pearce absorbed himself in during his youth, some people do not realize that it’s available in Kitsap, Blair said. It’s also a sport that both girls and boys can participate in, he added.

“I’ve always been impressed by the character of the kids and how compassionate they are for each other,” Blair said. “People talk about how it’s an awful, rough sport. But they’ve got that camaraderie between each other.”

Brenda Steinsvik didn’t even know Blair’s grandson but when she heard of what happened and about the scholarship, she quickly supported it. The Poulsbo resident said she has a passion for youths and volunteering in the community.

“I don’t know [Blair] very well, but I know his heart,” she said.

Blair has gone to the Kingston Farmer’s Market to sell his sculptures to raise money for the scholarship and has received support from other local artists. He has also spoken to the Kiwanis Club in Poulsbo and plans to hold a rummage sale at the end of spring or early summer to also help raise money.

“I want to keep it going,” he said.