Retired RCMP officer Terry Pakenham (left) and his son Colin Pakenham demonstrate some self defence moves during the Jean Minguy Memorial RCMP Youth Academy. Terry Pakenham, former RCMP officer and Minguy academy board member, died April 24 at age 68. (Morning Star - file photo)

Tributes flow for former Vernon Safe Communities Unit manager

Terry Pakenham died April 24 at age 68; big believer in community collaboration

Holding back tears, Gord Molendyk described his friend, Terry Pakenham, as the best boss he’s ever had.

Pakenham, former RCMP officer and manager of the Vernon Safe Communities Unit (community policing office), died April 24, at the age 68, from cancer.

“Terry hired me to work at the Safe Communities Unit,” said Molendyk, like Pakenham, a retired RCMP officer.

“He was a kind, gentle man who only wanted the best things for his people. He treated his employees like they were family. He cared about his employees. He had a great sense of humour.”

Born in Kimberley, Pakenham spent 25 years with the RCMP with postings in Cranbrook, Terrace and Vernon.

While he moved through various positions within the force, Pakenham’s true passions were in crime prevention and forensic identification. As a forensics officer, Pakenham covered some of the most high profile cases in Vernon.

After he retired from the RCMP, Pakenham went to work for the City of Vernon as manager of the Safe Communities Unit.

“He had a vision with the unit,” Molendyk said. “There were other groups and organizations in the province that looked at the Vernon unit as a model.”

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP shared its condolences over social media on May 4.

“Terry is fondly remembered by his peers within the RCMP and was a shining example of what our iconic Red Serge represents,” a post to Facebook said. “Terry was very well liked and respected within our organizations as well within the communities in which he served.”

Rachael Zubick is the current community safety coordinator for the Community Safety Office who worked for and with Pakenham.

“He challenged me and made me see things in a different light,” she said. “His belief in community collaboration and destroying silos will forever be imprinted on our city through the continued work of the Safe Communities Unit and Partners in Action… He was a gentleman, artisan, leader and mentor. I have been blessed to have him a teacher.”

Pakenham was chairman of the Jean Minguy Memorial RCMP Youth Academy for several years and served on many boards, including the John Howard Society, Restorative Justice Society, Partners in Action and the Schubert Centre, as well as another 20 other notable North Okanagan boards and committees.

“Terry was a true visionary and enjoyed contributing to the betterment of his community,” said the family in Pakenham’s obituary. “He continually and unselfishly gave of himself because he believed in people.”

A memorial for Pakenham will be announced in the future once it is safe to do so following current social pandemic concerns and restrictions.

READ MORE: Police academy generates memories

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