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North Okanagan Citizen of the Year fondly remembered

Gail Salter, 2023 Armstrong Spallumcheen top citizen, dies of cancer
Gail Salter (centre) is named Armstrong Spallumcheen 2023 Citizen of the Year at the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce’s Community Excellence Awards Thursday, May 11. Making the presentation to Salter are Armstrong Mayor Joe Cramer (left) and Spallumcheen councillor Joe Van Tienhoven. Salter died of cancer Nov. 21.(Roger Knox - Morning Star)

At one of her last public functions, where she was part of the honoured guests, Gail Salter reiterated that volunteering around Armstrong was a pleasure.

Salter, the Armstrong-Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce 2023 Citizen of the Year, died of cancer Nov. 21.

She was part of former Citizen of the Year winners honoured at the Armstrong Legion on Sept. 12 with a tea. Special guests in attendance that day were Salter’s great nieces, Abigail and Emma Mitchell.

The sisters always make a pilgrimage from their homes in B.C.’s northwest corner every summer to visit their favourite great aunt, but delayed the trip this year so they could be there to see Salter recognized for her community contributions.

“She taught us to be graceful, and she’s taught us to be good persons,” said Abigail.

At the Legion, Salter was presented with gifts from Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo and Mayors Christine Fraser (Spallumcheen) and Joe Kramer (Armstrong). She also received a bouquet of flowers from chamber executive director Patti Noonan.

“It’s been a pleasure to work and volunteer around the community,” said Salter at the Legion. “I certainly got as much pleasure out of it. I don’t really know that I deserve any honour for it.”

Salter was named Citizen of the Year in May 2023 at the chamber’s Business Excellence Awards, and was honoured on Canada Day celebrations at Armstrong’s Memorial Park. She had attended the awards as president of the Armstrong Spallumcheen Museum and Art Gallery Society (ASMAS), hoping to hear the society had won an honour.

Instead, she was stunned when her name was announced as citizen of the year before a packed crowd at Farmstrong Cider Co. in Spallumcheen.

Event emcees Marc Szarek and Madison Reynolds, directors of the chamber board, gave a number of hints to the crowd as to the winner.

Szarek said this person “demonstrates strength, commitment, and leadership to many not-for-profit organizations, chairs meetings, participates in committee work and is quick to lend a hand.”

Reynolds teased the winner was “kind, passionate, and enthusiastic” about volunteering, and supporting other volunteers.

Salter came to Armstrong in 1989. She served on the executive of the Armstrong Credit Union, and the strata council for the Meadow Creek Lane housing development. She was a huge supporter of Communities in Bloom, the Royal Canadian Legion’s Candlelight Ceremony and is a member of the Armstrong Heritage Society.

She was joined at her awards table by fellow heritage society and ASMAS society member Jessie Ann Gamble and Gamble’s husband, Len. Gamble was the Citizen of the Year 20 years earlier in 2003.

“Gail was such a classy lady and such a good friend,” said Gamble. I will miss her with a vengeance.”

The third heritage society member, the late Dawn Jamieson (died in 2019), was Citizen of the Year with her late husband Jack in 2006 (Jack died in 2022).

READ MORE: Salter peppers volunteer legacy with Armstrong Spallumcheen honour

READ MORE: Tea celebrates Armstrong Spallumcheen Citizens of the Year

Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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