Fox on ice: Norway ice skating rink to be dedicated to longtime volunteer on Friday

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NORWAY — The late Bruce Fox was the image of the ideal volunteer, which is one of the many reasons the town’s ice skating rink will be dedicated to him on Friday evening, says Recreation Director Debra Partridge.

There will be an ice skating party as part of the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, with the Fox dedication at 6 p.m. at the Cottage Street ice skating rink. A carved wooden sign reading “Bruce Fox Memorial Ice Rink” will be at the ceremony but erected in the spring, Partridge says.

Photo courtesy of Deb Partridge The late and longtime volunteer Bruce Fox snowplows Norway's ice skating rink last year. The Cottage Street venue will be dedicated to him at 6 p.m. Friday.
Photo courtesy of Deb Partridge
The late and longtime volunteer Bruce Fox snowplows Norway’s ice skating rink last year. The Cottage Street venue will be dedicated to him at 6 p.m. Friday.

In addition to the 250 pairs of ice skates that are available to borrow at the New Balance Warming Hut, there will be hot chocolate, coffee and popcorn, along with a bonfire. Partridge asks that people bring a healthy snack to share for the Potluck Munchie Table.

In her office at the Town Office last week, Partridge fondly remembers Fox, who was dubbed “Iceman” ever since the Norway resident began taking care of the rink in 1994. Fox, 64, passed away unexpectedly on Oct. 30, 2014, after the boards for the rink were put up and the liner laid down in preparation for the season.

“He loved doing that ice rink. … He is the epitome of volunteerism,” Partridge says, adding that Fox would break into a grin and laugh anytime he saw someone on the ice. “He enjoyed people having fun.”

There’s been a lot of community support for naming the rink after Fox, which includes approval from the Norway Selectmen who decided to give it his name at a November 2014 meeting.

Many people Partridge has spoken with since his passing have told her they considered Fox to be a father figure.

“He was just a really nice guy. He had so many friends from different walks of life,” she says. “He’d help anybody, (he was) just one of those people.”

Fox helped out Norway and its surrounding communities — anyone can use the town’s ice skating rink — by maintaining the facility for two decades.

“He was always attentive to how the ice was. He wanted it close to perfect every day,” Partridge says. “He had it down to a science. You just don’t throw water on the ground and leave it. It’s constant care.”

Fox was paid a small stipend each year for his rink work, she adds, but it never equaled the time, effort and love he put into maintaining the ice. He found a way to patch holes and large cracks and would clear the rink of snow after every storm. Sometimes his wife, Nancy, would accompany him at the rink at 2 a.m., where he would put down more water before heading to work at Maine Machine Co. He also would pump out the fire hydrant so it wouldn’t freeze.

Partridge says Fox would do all of this work, often times not in the best conditions, with a smile of his face.

“It could be windy, it could be brutally cold, and around water, if your hands get wet, oh the pain,” she says. “He was just so dedicated.”

Friday’s dedication ceremony was chosen to correspond with the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend to not only honor Fox, but to get people outside and moving.

“The big picture is to get people out exercising in the wintertime,” she says, adding that the rink, which is open from dawn until 10 p.m. every day, is usually available for skating before Norway Lake freezes over. “People really appreciate having it there.”

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