Community gathers to pay tribute to Nicol

About 1,000 people attended a memorial service for the Vernon councillor

North Okanagan residents came out in force to bid Patrick Nicol farewell Monday.

About 1,000 people attended a memorial service for the Vernon councillor and regional district chairperson at Trinity United Church and via satellite feed at the Schubert Centre and Kal Tire Place. Nicol died Jan. 15 after a long fight with cancer.

“If Vernon had royalty, Patrick would be a member of our royal family,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky, one of many speakers at the service.

“And he would have achieved that status not by heredity, which is a dubious qualification as has been demonstrated by the antics of some of the royal families we love to watch, but by merit, by dint of the decades of hard work and dedication for the betterment of his community that was the cornerstone of his life here.”

There were many officials in attendance, including Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster, Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick, Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper, Enderby Mayor Howie Cyr, Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton, Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown, Union of B.C. Municipalities president Rhona Martin and Regional District of North Okanagan vice-chairperson Rick Fairbairn.

Sawatzky was Nicol’s physician, and he spoke about the day he realized Nicol was ill.

“I advised him that I wanted to admit him to hospital that day to get some diagnostic testing,” said Sawatzky.

“He refused because, and I quote, ‘I’m too busy with organizing Canada Day celebrations and I have a number of meetings and too many people are counting on me. We’ll have to arrange something in a couple of weeks.’ That story epitomizes, I think, how Patrick thought his life should be lived and his priorities in life.”