01/31/2015 05:00 EST | Updated 04/02/2015 05:59 EDT

Pat Quinn's family and childhood friends remember him at Hamilton memorial

Family members, childhood neighbours and friends honoured one of Hamilton's favourite sons, Pat Quinn, Saturday with a special mass at St. Eugene Parish, a church across the street from an arena that now bears his name.

The Hamilton-born hockey icon would have turned 72 earlier this week. Quinn died in B.C. in November after a long illness. An official funeral was held in Vancouver.

But his siblings and friends wanted to hold a special memorial in Hamilton. The church is the same one where Quinn's mother's funeral was held in 2008.

- CBC Sports | Pat Quinn dead at 71

Monsignor Earl Talbot met Quinn when Talbot moved to the Parkdale neighbourhood as an eight-year-old.

Talbot gave a homily at the service, peppering his reading of Bible passages with stories of after-school fights and of Quinn's generosity after he'd become a star.

"Pat's roots go very deep in this neighbourhood," Talbot said. 

Talbot said Quinn was the epitome of a "servant leader" — someone who leads not by dominating but by bringing out the best in people. 

Pat Mair grew up going to school with Quinn, as did Millie and Joel Wunderlich, who now live in Welland. After the service, they said they hadn't known whether they'd see anyone they knew.

But the service turned into a reunion of sorts. Mair's great-nephews had hockey games scheduled at the Pat Quinn Arena across the street on Saturday afternoon. 

"We're all east-enders," Mair said.

Mair said she understood why Quinn's family had memorials in both Vancouver and Parkdale, where Quinn grew up. 

"It was so nice to have something here," she said. "He belongs here."

In Hamilton, Quinn has an arena and pool named after him in the Parkdale area. Glennie Avenue, where he grew up, has since been renamed Pat Quinn Way.