BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. - The wife of hockey great Gordie Howe was remembered Wednesday as a resilient, "valued woman" who became one of the first female sports agents.
Hundreds of mourners paid respects Wednesday to Colleen Howe. A memorial service for the woman known as "Mrs. Hockey" was held in St. Hugo of the Hills Church in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills.
Her son, Murray, said his mother's motto was, "Why not?"
"Hey, Gord, why not come out of retirement - you're only 45 - and play on the same team as your sons," he quoted his mother as saying to his father.
In his homily, Monsignor Edward J. Baldwin said Colleen Howe was the model of what a woman should be as a mother, wife and friend. Borrowing from the Michigan state motto, he said, "If you are looking for a valued woman . . . look around."
Colleen Howe died Friday at 76 of Pick's disease, a rare form of dementia similar to Alzheimer's. She was diagnosed at age 70 with the disease, which alters personality and whose progression cannot be slowed.
Colleen Howe promoted hockey in her own right and stood outside her husband's shadow through her charitable work and success as a businesswoman and author.
She was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000 for her work with youth hockey. She founded the Detroit Junior Red Wings, the first junior hockey team in the country.
Colleen Joffa was born in 1933 in Sandusky and was living in Detroit when she met Gordie Howe in 1950. They married three years later.
She is survived by her husband; sons Mark, Marty and Murray; daughter Cathy; nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.