He was a Canadian native who became a proud American, an upright lawyer with a broad smile, a fast talent on the ice, and a doting grandfather.

Yves Armand Hebert, an Oakmont resident since 2003, died at his son's Sebastopol home on March 14. He had just finished listening to the Fifth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven, one of his a favorite composers.

Hebert was 80 and the cause was congestive heart failure, said his son.

He was born Oct. 19, 1933, in a poor Montreal neighborhood. Flashing hockey skates on frozen ponds carved his future.

"It was a way out for him," said his son, Colin Hebert. "It got him an education. It got him out of Montreal and all the way to sunny California."

Hebert won an athletic scholarship to the University of Michigan, a storied NCAA hockey power, and was a speedy forward on the 1955 Wolverines champions. He also demonstrated his mettle when in an accident during practice, he was knocked out and remained unconscious for 17 hours, Colin Hebert said.

Hebert graduated with a bachelor's degree in French literature in 1956, then returned to Canada to earn a law degree from the University of Montreal.

Then he left for warmer climes — Los Angeles.

"He was trying to get as far away from the cold Montreal winters as he could," Colin Hebert said.

After working as an insurance adjustor, he was admitted to the California State Bar in 1966, once he had become a United States citizen.

Proud to be part of his adopted country, Hebert also held onto the language he'd learned from childhood.

"He embraced being an American," his son said. "But he took great pride in his ability to speak French and could speak it well. He was constantly pointing out that this person didn't speak French very well."

Hebert went on to practice law for 20 years in San Diego County, both in private practice and with the County Counsel's office. He married Margaret Judith O'Neill in 1970. The couple later divorced.

In 1985, Hebert moved to Mendocino County for a job with the County Counsel's office, where he worked largely in land use issues. He cycled for miles — a pursuit he continued until he was 75. And he built a home in the Ukiah Valley, looking east over Ukiah, the county seat.

It was on a hillside, at a spot once frequented by teenagers looking to be alone, and he was told it was too steep to build on.

"They thought he was crazy. But he did it," his son said. "He used to say it reminded him of being in a highrise in Manhattan, looking down at the lights in the valley down below."

Hebert retired in 1999 and moved to Santa Rosa in 2003. He had never stopped playing hockey and, since moving to Mendocino County, had wielded his stick in Snoopy's Adult Hockey League.

He played year-round until he was nearly 70, his son said, and continued to attend league tournaments even after he stopped.

"A lot was, of course, the competition of the game, and he also just liked hanging out with the guys," Colin Hebert said. "It was like, having a beer in the parking lot with a group of guys in their 70's, that kind of camaraderie was really appealing to him."

A troublesome knee that went out on the ice when he crashed the boards ended his career on skates.

"It was a dramatic finish," Colin Hebert said.

Hebert read everything, from Roman history to Scandinavian murder mysteries: he put away three newspapers a day and two or three novels a week.

But his abiding interest in later years was his granddaughter Audrey, with whom he made frequent trips to Santa Rosa's Copperfield's Books.

"That was one of his big bonds with her. If he didn't take her, he showed up with books for her,"Colin Hebert said.

Hebert's survivors include his daughter-in-law Jennifer Hebert; his brothers Guy Hebert and Gilles Hebert of Montreal; and his sister Micheline Prevost of Montreal.