It was one year ago Thursday, Nov. 25, that Vernon lost one of its finest community champions.
Anyone who knew lawyer Paul Nixon, founder of Nixon Wenger Lawyers, would have packed whatever location was selected for his funeral service. Extra seats likely would have been needed for the people wanting to honour Nixon and the immense impact he had on the community. The number of individuals, families, businesses and charities who consider Nixon’s counsel a key part of their success is significant.
But there was no service. COVID-19 saw to that. So how do you mark the passing of people like Nixon who have been instrumental in so many lives? Gathering together to share stories and pay respects is an important part of grieving.
A year later, the community is still struggling with public health restrictions. While the need to be together, and to pay tribute to those who have left us too soon has not abated, the means of doing so is limited. Among Nixon’s accomplishments, however, there is one that lends itself particularly well to keeping his memory alive.
In 1975, Nixon, along with other members of the Vernon Rotary Club, saw the need for a charitable society that focused on local community needs.
They fundraised that first $1,000 donation from a like-minded colleague and started what is essentially the “community savings account.” What was originally called the Vernon Benevolent Society has evolved into the Community Foundation North Okanagan. Nixon was a founder, created the first constitution, and remained a board member for decades.
“It’s impressive that 46 years ago, Paul and the other Community Foundation founders had the foresight to build a renewable source of funding to support the valuable charitable work in our region,” said foundation executive director Leanne Hammond, while reflecting on the many charitable collaborations that Nixon was part of over the years.
As a tribute to Nixon’s commitment to making a difference in our community, it is fitting that his family, friends, and colleagues have established the Paul Nixon Youth and Community Fund at the Community Foundation North Okanagan.
“We invite you to pay your respects to a man who meant so much to so many by making a donation to this special endowment fund,” said Hammond. “In keeping with Paul’s character and purpose, it will direct ongoing grants to community charitable causes, and to support post-secondary education and training of local youth in the trades and in business.”
In Nixon’s words: “What you do is your history. What you set in motion is your legacy.”