Friends, Family Host Hockey Game Celebration in Honor of Mark Sertich’s 100th Birthday
On the week of what would have been Sertie's 100th birthday, his friends and family gathered at the Heritage Center on Tuesday morning for a hockey game, something that Sertie had been doing for years on his birthday.
DULUTH, Minn. – On Sunday, Duluth native and the world’s oldest hockey player Mark “Sertie” Sertich would have turned 100. He passed away last August but his friends and family still wanted to celebrate his 100th birthday, and what better way to honor and celebrate the local hockey legend, than on the ice.
“This is the game that Mark loved,” Sertie’s friend Dane Youngblom said.
Before his passing, Sertich spent his birthday every year for over a decade on the ice surrounded by friends and family.
“Like 13 years ago, we had his first birthday skate for him and he said why don’t you guys wait until I’m 100 and we thought it was a joke but it wasn’t a joke,” Youngblom said, who spent years skating with Sertie at the Heritage Center multiple times a week.
So on the week of what would have been Sertie’s 100th birthday, his friends and family gathered at the Heritage Center on Tuesday morning for a hockey game.
“He really wanted to make it to 100. Mark would never miss a skate, he skated three times a week and he would be here,” Youngblom said.
“100 birthdays, not that many people reach that milestone and for somebody that was on the ice a year ago playing hockey with us, to come that close and pass away, was really heart wrenching in a lot of ways but he had a terrific life, terrific friends, great family. We think this is a great way to show our appreciation for all that he gave to us over the years. This is really a testament to how well he was liked and how much he was respected in the community,” another one of Sertie’s friends and fellow hockey teammate Butch Williams added.
“Every single person here just loved Mark and loved his work ethic and loved the man, he’s an incredible man,” Youngblom said.
And even at 100, his friends know Sertie would have been out on the ice trying to make plays happen.
“He’d be certainly try to score the most goals out here, I know that because he was so competitive in nature and I think that’s one of the reasons he lived to be almost 100,” Williams said.
“He would be out on the ice calling for a pass. He could shuff the puck, put it in,” Youngblom added.
Sertie’s friends plan to put a picture of him up in the locker room and there’s also a special birthday banner that will hang in the Heritage Center for the next year.
“There’s a big hole, there’s a hole in the locker room, he sat in the same place, he sat right next to me in the locker room and I miss him,” Youngblom said.
“We host a lot of youth hockey tournaments here in Duluth and all of these young people that come through these doors are going to see that banner of him and they’re going to recognize him as the word’s oldest hockey player and that provides inspiration in a lot of ways to young hockey players,” Williams added.
All to continue to remember the hockey legend for even more birthdays to come.
“There’s no forgetting him, that’s for sure. We’re always going to remember him, he’s always going to be dear to our hearts and part of our lives,” Williams said.