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2013 - The Year in Review: Pioneer, entrepreneur, police officer among those we lost
This week, The Times is taking a look back at the events that helped shape the past year.
From the widely unexpected results of May's provincial election (and its repercussions for the Langleys) to the people we lost — both pioneers, who lived long and fruitful lives and a pair of young men who were taken too soon — 2013 was a year of ups and downs.
A trio of fatalities made 2013 one of the worst years for fire deaths in recent memory.
The Township meanwhile, found itself at the centre of two major development controversies in 2013, while the criminal element didn't appear to distinguish between the two municipalities.
And a Langley father of three took desperate measures in his fight to stay in Canada.
Of course, it wasn't all gloom and doom, as tens of thousands once again gathered in Langley City's downtown core for the annual Good Times Cruise In, the annual Langley Has Talent competition helped a young mother and aspiring opera singer move one step closer to realizing her dream and a group of children did their part for the environment by planting saplings at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum.
Several prominent members of the Langley community and well-known former residents passed away in 2013.
Longtime Langley City businessman Craig Davies passed away on June 17 after a brief battle with colon cancer.
Davies was a member of the Langley City business community for 40 years, and was the chair of the Downtown Langley Business Association for several years. He was the owner of Design One, a graphic design studio in Langley for 35 years. He was named business person of the year in 2011 by the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.
He was 63.
Langley School District communications director and the 2013 Pitt Meadows Citizen of the Year Sandy Wakeling died on July 27 of a rare form of cancer. He was only 42.
After Wakeling was hired in Langley, he worked closely with the local media and set up the district with a Facebook page as well as giving it a presence on other social media outlets including Twitter. He kept the district’s webpage active, allowing parents to provide feedback on important issues online.
Since March, Sandy had joined in two drug trials with the B.C. Cancer Agency that were tough physically and emotionally, but which he endured so that future patients might benefit.
Langley’s most meticulous historian and its only honourary pioneer, Norm Sherritt, died on Aug. 16. He was 92.
In addition to his lifetime interest in Langley history, Sherritt was a longtime teacher and principal in the Langley school system, and was much-admired by students, parents and teachers for his many contributions to the school system and students’ education. He founded the Langley Scholarship Committee in 1954 and served as its chair for 21 years.
Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre
A former RCMP media spokesperson who provided the first public statements following the Taser-related death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver Airport in 2007 died in July in his Abbotsford home. B.C. Coroner’s Service confirmed that Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre, who most recently was working for the RCMP E division traffic services, committed suicide. He was the spokesman for the Langley RCMP for several years in the early 2000s. He had also worked with the integrated road safety unit, which is based in the Langley Township civic facility.
The man who brought Shakespeare to Langley died in his home in Logan Lake in December. Alan Thain, founder of Bard in the Valley, passed away suddenly on Dec. 3. He served as a Rotarian and was named Senior of the Year in Langley. Thain mentored many new actors — both young and old — through the Bard in the Valley productions and in his professional life, was a seasoned communications specialist with a career in radio, television, public relations, government and advertising. He was also a national award-winning radio and television copywriter and producer. Thain was 75 years old.
Austin Kingsborough and Brendan Wilson
The drowning deaths of two Langley boys in April devastated a high school community and brought friends, Langley students and community members together to mourn their loss.
Brendan Wilson, 17, and Austin Kingsborough, 18 drowned in Nicola Lake, near Merritt, after their canoe capsized in the frigid water.
After five agonizing days an RCMP dive team called off the search of the area where the boys went missing on April 20.
The two were longtime friends and Grade 12 LSS students, and were well-known in the community through their involvement with Langley Minor Hockey.
Their bodies were recovered after Wilson’s parents called in an underwater search specialist from Idaho.
Family and friends have since started a non-profit organization dedicated to purchasing, training with and using special sonar equipment similar to that used to recover Wilson’s and Kingsorough’s bodies after the RCMP were unable to, using the equipment they had.
Friends of the boys from LSS and the school community also pulled together a number of fundraising initiatives, selling T-shirts and bracelets under the name “Pray for the Boys.”