Former Denver captain Zemrau passes away, led team to ’58 title

Edwin (Ed) Zemrau, the captain of Denver’s first NCAA championship team in 1958, has passed away at the age of 78.

Zemrau, an Edmonton native, was a 1957-58 All-American and captained the Pioneers to the NCAA title, a 6-2 win over North Dakota. Zemrau tallied the game-winning assist and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team. Zemrau later played minor pro hockey with the Winnipeg Warriors in the old Western Hockey League.

Zemrau made his mark in the Canadian university ranks, serving a number of roles that included professor at the University of Alberta, member of the bid committee that brought the Commonwealth Games to Edmonton in 1978 and president of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union

A celebration of Zemrau’s life will be held Monday, April 30 at Trinity Baptist Church in Sherwood Park, Alta.

He began his distinguished career at the University of Alberta in 1960 as an Assistant to the Dean of Physical Education, who at that time was Canadian sporting icon Dr. Maury Van Vliet. He served three years in that role and then became the school’s first Director of Athletics in 1963, a post he would hold for the next 18 years (1963-81).

Zemrau began to get national notice when he served as Chairman of the Canadian University Centennial Project in 1967, earning the Canadian Centennial Medal of Honour for Service to the Nation for his efforts. He then was the Vice Chairman for the 1970 World Amateur Wrestling Championships, which were held in Edmonton, and he also served as the Chairman of the Western Intercollegiate Football League, what is now Canada West, for a four-year term (1968-71).

In 1972 he continued his involvement internationally by serving as the Chef de Mission for Canada at the World Winter Universiade, held in Lake Placid, N.Y. He also worked with Dr. Van Vliet as a member of the Bid Committee that helped bring a very successful Commonwealth Games to Edmonton in 1978. Just prior to the start of those Games, Zemrau became the President of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union, the present day CIS, a post he held from 1977-84.

Following the enormous success of the 1978 Commonwealth Games, Edmonton was hungry for more international sport, and Zemrau delivered. Leaving his post as Director of Athletics in 1981, he served as President and CEO of the World University Games (1981-85) and was a driving force of the 1983 Summer Universiade held in Edmonton, which significantly raised the bar of the Universiade experience. He was awarded the FISU (International Federation of University Sport) Honour Award in 1984 and named Edmonton Sportsmen of the Year in 1984.

Zemrau returned to the University of Alberta in 1985 as Professor within the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. He also remained heavily involved in the international scene. From 1983-94, Zemrau was Vice President of FISU and from 1994-2003 he had served as First Vice-President of FISU. He also served on the Board of Directors of the World Track and Field Championships (1999-2001), which were held in Edmonton in 2001, and the World University Wrestling Championships (1999-2002). He was a member of the Board of Governors for the 2005 Masters Games, which were held in Edmonton, and he served as ‘Special Advisor’ to Edmonton’s 2015 Summer World University Games Bid Committee.