A noted letter writer to newspapers in Vernon and her native Lumby, Beryl Nerling’s motto was: “To remain silent indicates acceptance.”
Nerling’s pen and voice have, unfortunately, gone silent. She died Nov. 2 at the age of 95.
In 2011, Nerling penned a letter to the editor of the Morning Star, advocating the building of what would become Greater Vernon Athletic Park at Okanagan College, refuting an earlier letter written by a senior stating the facility was not needed.
“While we seniors don’t like to accept change and want to keep things as they are, we need to accept that we cannot stop progress, nor can we stop our city from growing and having the need to provide these facilities to provide a healthy lifestyle in our community,” wrote Nerling, who was also a driving force behind the referendum to build Kal Tire Place.
In her 90s, Nerling spearheaded a campaign for raising $60,000 for new dialysis chairs at the Vernon Renal Unit, where she was a fixture receiving dialysis treatment. The end result was more than $70,000 raised.
“I never thought it would go that good,” said Nerling, sitting in one of the new chairs at the centre in an Aug. 4, 2019, interview with the Morning Star. “I remember the day I was asked to head up a team to get money for the chairs.
“It took me about seven months to think about it. Then, once we started, it took three months to get the money. Thank you to everyone who contributed.”
Chandel Schmidt, director of annual programs for the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, which oversaw the dialysis chair campaign, said the new chairs included several enhanced features, functionality and comfort for both the patients and health care staff.
“Patients can spend up to 12 hours each week in these chairs and thanks to Beryl and her unwavering support, these new additions are well appreciated,” said Schmidt. “Beryl was a firecracker and will surely be missed by many.”
Nerling was a Christmas Eve baby, born in the living quarters behind the old Lumby Post Office on Dec. 24, 1924, the last survivor of five children born to Jim and Ada McAllister.
She left Lumby in the Second World War to join the Canadian Women’s Army Corp, stationed in Victoria, Suffield Air Base in Alberta, and Ottawa.
Upon her discharge, Nerling worked a variety of jobs, mostly in bookkeeping, or running her own businesses. She retired at age 88 but still did family and friends’ income tax returns.
Nerling loved playing sports, especially basketball. In her younger years, she belonged to the Lumby Lend-a-Had Club and taught swimming lessons in Lumby and Vernon.