The City of Armstrong has lost a true friend of the community.
Tom Nordstrom, longtime volunteer, former Good Citizen of the Year and recognized in January with the city’s first award of excellence for his volunteer activities, died March 4 at North Okanagan Hospice House at the age of 76.
“Tom was a tremendous asset to us,” said Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper. “He was born and raised here, moved away, retired, and came back to Armstrong with a passion to volunteer in our community.”
Nordstrom, known as The Melon Man for his passion for growing melons at his Corkscrew Road property (and operated a bed and breakfast), was heavily involved with Lions Clubs.
He was a charter member of North Vancouver’s Edgemont Lions Club, and, upon his retirement in Armstrong, began his push to have a Lions Vision Centre created at the Pleasant Valley Health Centre.
Nordstrom lobbied with politicians, Interior Health and went to Lions International to have the local project recognized for funding from the international organization.
He twice walked blindfolded to Vernon to bring attention to the importance of sight.
Along with Dr. Mathias Fellenz, Nordstrom helped found the Interior Eye Care Society to continue fundraising to make sure state-of-the-art equipment and furnishings were installed at the vision centre.
“Tom was a special guy,” said Fellenz. “He had a spark and life that just spoke of dedication to his community. He was an inspiration that way. He put a lot of himself into different projects. He was an absolute mainstay of the eye care society, and everything he did for it was greatly appreciated.
“His death is a big loss for the community and North Okanagan.”
Nordstrom also helped create a permanent endowment fund with the North Okanagan Foundation for the centre.
Nordstrom was born in Armstrong and spent his childhood at a farm on Pleasant Valley Crossroad. He went to UBC and graduated in electrical engineering with the Association of Professional Engineers Gold Medal and an Athlone Fellowship to England.
At UBC, he met his future wife, Karel, and they were married in England. They spent three years there before returning to Canada, where Nordstrom took a job with BC Hydro. He was with the utility for 30 years.
A celebration of Nordstrom’s life will be held at the ABC Chapel on Rosedale Avenue in Armstrong Saturday at 11 a.m.