Personal and celebrity losses abundant in 2017

Personal and celebrity losses abundant in 2017

Time to turn the page on a difficult year

I can’t say I’m sad to see the last of 2017.

It was a year of major personal losses, not to mention within the community and in the celebrity ranks with actors, musicians and sporting personalities.

It all began with the sudden passing of my father-in-law Albin Falt in late January. He was only three months away from his 94th birthday so he lived a long fulfilling life, but his health-conscious activities and demeanour certainly made it seem like he had a lot more years left.

Albin was a Cowichan Bay pioneer and well-known to so many in the community through his tugboat towing business and service clubs.

He taught me a lot about so many things. We had many wonderful times working in our yard and fussing around the family cabin west of Williams Lake fixing or tidying up something frequently.

Albin always amazed me with his fearless approach to life. Sometimes I think ‘dangerous’ was his middle name.

He was still climbing trees, limbing and even falling them well into his 80s, used a Tiger Torch to torch things like no one I’ve ever seen and I can’t begin to count how many times we used dangerous chemicals to do a job.

I finally became immune to it after a while, like the time we donned rain gear and had chemical spray for our fruit trees literally raining down on us.

Albin always knew what he was doing and I trusted him. He will be sorely missed.

We also had four other neighbours and former neighbours pass away during the year. Two of them reached a substantial age, Win Finnie to 101 and Adrian White to 98, but it’s still hard to comprehend they are no longer with us.

The community is also missing many other amazing people with the deaths of Gerry Hurst, Paul Rukus, Russell Stewart and Alma Hughes, to name but a few.

Hurst and Rukus were fixtures in Crofton for their numerous contributions to the town’s culture over the years; it’s sad not to see Stewart puttering across the highway in his tractor to Russell Farms Market and it isn’t the same without Alma and Gordon being together. My wife and I took great delight watching Gordon still dancing up a storm on Remembrance Day while he continues to remain active with the Centremen Songsters men’s choir at the Chemainus 55+ Activity Centre.

The losses were extensive to countless musicians, so many household names like Tom Petty, David Cassidy, Glen Campbell, Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. They were legends in different genres for a variety of reasons and you just found yourself rooting so hard for someone like Downie, because of his spirit and dedication to humanity, to receive a miracle cure after being diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer.

A wonderful group of entertainers in other fields also left us in 2017 – comedians Don Rickles and Jerry Lewis, Batman Adam West, 007 Roger Moore, actress Mary Tyler Moore and many more.

It was indeed a year of sadness with the passing of those we either knew directly or indirectly from television or through their music.

But, like the famous Lion King scene, such is the Circle of Life. Time marches on and new stars emerge while other younger people fill the voids in our local communities.

Sometimes, though, I can’t help but get caught in a time warp and not fully realize how the years have rolled past.

When I think back to 1977, the year I graduated from high school in Chemainus, Star Wars was one of the top movies. Today, movie-goers are flocking to the theatres to see Star Wars, another in the series perhaps but the same old thing.

Hmmm. The more things change, the more they sometimes seem the same except for those people we’re left to remember, who certainly will stand out in our minds for years to come.