Former mayor Jerry Oglow (from left)

Former mayor Jerry Oglow (from left)

Names make an impression

Armstrong names two roads after Tom Nordstrom and Jerry Oglow

Unlike the cartoon characters, this Tom and Jerry liked and respected each other.

The City of Armstrong has named two roads in the new Southgate development behind Tim Hortons off Harding Road in honour of the late Tom Nordstrom, a former Citizen of the Year, and former 12-year mayor Jerry Oglow.

The official ceremony was held at the intersection of Oglow Drive and Nordstrom Avenue Tuesday morning.

“It’s always a pleasure to do what we’re doing today,” said Jessie Ann Gamble, joined at the ceremony by fellow Armstrong Heritage Advisory Committee members Gail Salter and Dawn Jamieson.

“We like to honour people who have served as mayors in this town, and we like to honour people who have served the community. We don’t have avenues and streets with numbers or that are in alphabetical order. Our streets are named for its people who are significant in the history of our wonderful town. Tom and Jerry have so earned this honour.”

Mayor Chris Pieper gave a rundown of Oglow’s and Nordstrom’s accomplishments.

Known locally as the Melon Man, for his passion for growing melons, Nordstrom was born and raised in Armstrong. He left at 16 (he skipped a grade in school) and enrolled in engineering at UBC, focusing on electrical engineering.

At UBC, he met the woman who would become his wife, Karel, and the pair headed to England after Nordstrom was offered a fellowship to study there. Tom and Karel stayed in England for three years, working for General Electric and obtaining his masters degree.

Upon returning to Canada, Nordstrom was offered a job by BC Hydro. He worked in various capacities at Hydro, ending his career as the utility’s vice-president.

Nordstrom retired at 55 and he and Karel returned to Armstrong, where Nordstrom’s parents reside and where his daughter, Juli, had recently moved. That’s when they bought the property on Corkscrew Road and began growing melons and other fruits and vegetables.

Nordstrom was also heavily involved with the 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 was instrumental in the formation of a separate Interior Eye Care society to continue fundraising to make sure state-of-the-art equipment and furnishings were installed. He also helped create a permanent endowment fund with the North Okanagan Foundation for the centre.

A treatment room at the Vision Care Centre is named the Tom Nordstrom Room in recognition of his efforts.

Nordstrom has won many Lions Club awards and, in 2001, was named Armstrong Spallumcheen Good Citizen of the Year and, in 2013, one month before his death, the city awarded Nordstrom its Recognition of Excellence award.

“Tom would have been very honoured to know this was happening,” said Karel, accompanied by Juli and Juli’s son, Cameron. “We are too, of course. Tom and Jerry got along well. It’s a very nice honour and we’re very pleased.”

Oglow, accompanied Tuesday by his wife, Bev, arrived in Armstrong from Creston, where he worked for the local school board and held a similar post with the Armstrong School District.

He was elected to city council in November 1984 and served as a councillor for 12 years. He would spend another 12 years as the city’s mayor, retiring in 2008, succeeded by Pieper.

Oglow was responsible for the city’s solid waste treatment and irrigation system, and proud of the water supply strategy in Fortune Creek.

He was instrumental in the creation of the city’s 35-year capital infrastructure plan, the acquisition of land for Heaton Place, a 76-unit seniors retirement complex on the site of the old hospital, and worked with local MLAs and MPs to build the Nor-Val Sports Centre.

In 2013, Oglow received the Freedom of the City, the 11th such resident to earn the city’s highest honour.

“I’m so delighted to share today’s ceremony with the Nordstrom family,” said Oglow. “I had the privilege of knowing Tom for a number of years, watched his community activism, and it truly is an honour to share the stage with such a great community-minded person.”