November 8, 2009

Vincent Canto 1959-2009

In 2007, I noted that multiple boules orders were going to the same area in Arizona. And I got in touch with Vincent Canto, the 'culprit' who replied:
"I am originally from Lyon, France. I moved to Jerome, AZ (350 people) in 84"s and we have a strong fan club of Petanque players. Our teams are ready to compete with any body out there. Any balls? Vincent"

We emailed back & forth a couple of times, and the last news I got was in March 2009:
"By the way. We are currently in Merida Mexico and found a huge club here that plays Petanque. We will continue to play and spread the word."

He and his wife Stephanie had hooked up with our friends in Yucatan!

But the happiness was short lived. In May, I heard from Bill in Jerome ...

Vincent Canto was born to a Spanish father and a French mother in Toulouse, France. He grew up in Lyon where he trained as a machinist and chef. His parents introduced him to petanque at an early age and became very skilled. At the age of 18 he started on quite a trek around the world speaking fluent in Spanish, French and English. First he spent two years in Mexico then England, Canada and Martinique. He arrived in Jerome, Arizona and spent the next 23 years, where he met and married Stephanie. Ultimately, they settled in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico where he died suddenly after playing petanque. He introduced petanque to countless friends in the places he lived.
The stronghold of players is in Jerome, Arizona where play begins on Saturday or Sunday or both each week at 2 p.m. Jerome sits on the side of a mountain, and petanque is played on the flattest part of town which is the old cemetery parking area. The 360 degree scenic view of the mountains, forest and the town are fantastic. It is common to play until dark. Now three generations play on a regular basis. He would look out his window towards the old cemetery and if a game was being played he would rush right over and play or officiate. Vincent was instrumental in starting petanque in central Arizona and we all miss him.

Stephanie went to France to meet his family - for the first time. A trip they had planned to do together.
Immediately the clubs both in Merida - where his brief presence had left a lasting impression - and Jerome decided to hold their next tournament in honor of Vincent.
Torneo Vincent Canto (on Youtube)

And the players in Jerome pledged to send a delegation to the Open: Bill & Manuela, Anthony & Cindy, Felix & Brenda, Ron, and Stephanie Canto herself.
We will welcome them with open arms, and we will use this opportunity to award the first...

Vincent Canto Award
to someone who - like Vincent -, in a quiet, friendly, unassuming yet unflagging fashion, has been promoting petanque in the USA.

I'd like to end this post on a humorous note. In an email some time ago, Ron expressed his concern about playing in Florida:
Since we live on a hillside in Jerome AZ, flat areas are as rare as hairs on a frog's ass. Playing in an open tournament in an area where you can't buy a hill sounds somewhat intriguing!

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