In Celebration of

Paul Francis Poce

September 19, 1924 -  May 22, 2023

Poce, Paul Francis
Passed away at Trillium Health Partners Credit Valley Hospital on May 22, 2023, in his 99th year. Beloved husband of Edith Lorraine (nee Watt) for 43 years but friends for 50 years. He was the son of Francesco and Catherina Poce. A cherished brother of Mary Prior, Annette Wall, brother-in-law of May Poce, Elsie Biegler, Lynda Watt Wellman, and a brother of the late Elmo, Angelo, Ben & Frank. He will be missed by his many nieces and nephews in Canada, the USA, and his fur baby – Margherita.
As a young teenager, he began working after-school weekends at local stores in little Italy and worked summers on farms in Niagara. After graduating from high school he worked at the Inglis Plant making Bren guns until he entered the war.
In 1943 he began his service as a WAG (wireless, air gunner, navigator) Flying Officer. He flew Convoy Duty in Nova Scotia (11 BR) and then relocated to Tofino in BC in early ‘45. Although he boxed for a couple of years after High School he changed to running in the RCAF. He won many races and competed with the Army and Navy runners in Vancouver before the war ended.
Afterward, he worked for GE on DEW line, then Charles Tennant, John Gordon, and Sons and Penmans.
He also worked under Lloyd Percival & his Sports College. He and 2 others founded the Toronto Olympic Club in 1954. He coached all the distance events and other track disciplines.
In the 70’s he was made National Distance Coordinator. He was the Director of many Races in Toronto i.e. Labatt’s Marathon, Pru at the Zoo, Silver Relays, and the Club helped at every race held locally. The Club supported and helped the Legion meets every year & recently was a member of RCL Branch 82.
He was named to many Olympic Teams from 1972 to 1992. Also Commonwealth, Pan American, World Cup, Cross Country, and Ekiden Relays.
He was elected to several Halls of Fame including Canadian Olympic, Athletics Ontario, and Athletics Canada, served as Meet Director for the Toronto Star Indoor Games, Toronto Sun Indoor Games and Race Director for many area races, and Head Coach of TOC for 69 years and he ran for 65 years. Athletics was his life and he hoped to help everyone attain their goals even just by a few seconds.
He loved jazz music but also classical and loved to read books from an early age having a great interest in History and could remember World events and dates. He knew hundreds of his runners' phone numbers (before cell phones) and Athletes' times by memory even coaching these last few weeks by computer. He never wanted to retire.
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made in the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead” – Nelson Mandela
Friends may call at the Turner and Porter Neweduk- Erin Mills Chapel, 1981 Dundas Street West, Mississauga on Thursday, June 1st from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. A Service of Remembrance will be held in the Chapel on Friday, June 2nd at 3 p.m. after a visitation from 2-3 p.m. A larger celebration of Paul’s life will be held later this summer. For those who wish, donations in Paul’s memory can be made to the Toronto Star’s Fresh Air Fund or Santa Claus Fund. He benefited from both of these funds as a child.


(5 of 16)

Bruce Raymer (Athlete)

Entered May 26, 2023 from Toronto

Paul coached me for 22 years from 1990 to 2012 and was the reason I took up the Marathon as my main event. He was with me when I won my first Canadian Championship and also when I made my first National Team. I will miss him dearly.

Robert Moore (athlete and club executive)

Entered May 26, 2023 from Toronto

Thank you to Paul for decades of selfless service to hundreds, perhaps thousands of athletes. I have very many good memories of Paul in action. There was the help given to me to achieve my best, the special events where Paul made them happen like the World Cross Country Championships in France 1970 and the Jaspar to Banff relays. However, the day to day work to keep the Club functioning may not be as glorious but is vital and appreciated.
Paul made a difference to very many lives.

Michelle Coburn (TOC volunteer)

Entered May 26, 2023 from Victoria,B.C.

Always a special time when you were with Paul and Thanks to Lorraine for sharing him with so many of us who loved the sport he enriched with his being there. He made it inclusive and the conversations with always left me seeing the positive side of life.
Thanks for your time. and caring. michelle.

Beth Smith (Cecil Smith’s wife)

Entered May 27, 2023 from Brampton

My sincere condolences to you at this time.

Maureen Griffith (Athlete and friend)

Entered May 27, 2023 from Mississauga

I was privileged to have Paul as my coach and friend for over 40 years. His enthusiasm and love of the sport encouraged so many of us, for so many decades. Because of him I became a better runner and a better person. What an amazing life he has lived. I will miss him dearly, but will never forget him. My condolences go out to the love of his life, Lorraine, and all his family.


(1 of 1)