His sister-in-law, Teresa, thought this photograph best captured Billy Zinkhan’s relationship with the kids he coached in ice hockey. He was one of the first mentors of the Baltimore Saints, the program Teresa and Billy’s brother, Jim, established 15 years ago for children with traumatic brain injuries or intellectual disabilities such as autism or Down syndrome. In this photo, Billy clowns on the ice with Aiden, Elijah and Elliott Tillman. “He loved being around the Saints,” says Billy’s friend, Rich Jondo. “He was perfect with them, really. That was his thing. That was his calling.”
Billy died on April 3. He was only 50 years old. The circumstances of his death are still under investigation. His departure represents a profound loss for the special children and adults he coached with the Saints and the sled hockey Bennett Blazers, and for all who knew him. He was a large personality in the relatively small Baltimore hockey world; he had a raspy voice and a loud laugh, and obviously a big heart.
You can read more about Billy in my weekend Sun column: Billy Zinkhan and the joy of helping others. If you don’t have a Sun subscription, there’s a very inexpensive entry offer for the digital edition of the paper.
3 thoughts on “Remembering Billy Z: Loud laugh, big heart”
Mr. Dan Rodricks, I am the mother of Billy Zinkhan and I would just like to thank you so much for this beautiful piece that you wrote on the Saints and the sled hockey for my son like you said he had a loud voice and loud laugh and a big heart we are all going to miss him dearly. God bless you and thank you again Mrs. Doris Zinkhan.
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#RIP fellow hockey player.
Dan I just want to thank you for this wonderful piece on a boy I went to high school with who grew into a man with integrity dignity kindness and respect for all of those around him. It really is nice to see you take time to celebrate the life of someone who did so much for others. He will be missed horribly by those who knew and loved him, but your words will help others understand the legacy he has left and maybe stir something and someone else to help continue on with all the programs Billy was involved in
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