Over a thousand people gather to celebrate the life of City Councillor Patrick Nicol on Monday.
The memorial service was held at Trinity United Church, with satellite services at Kal Tire Place and The Schubert Centre.
The two-hour service was planned exclusively by Nicol himself who wanted to ensure that his family and friends did not need to worry about it upon his passing.
Nicol passed away on Jan 15 after a long battle with leukemia.
Dignitaries, local politicians, police, fire, Vernon Search and Rescue, broadcasters of the past and present, local media, and the admiring public filled the pews for the solemn yet inspirational service.
Without any doubt, it was made clear by every speaker, every picture, and every story that Nicol put community and extended family above all else.
Each speaker shared their own stories of Nicol’s avid love of community, government, broadcasting, music and sports.
All the musical pieces played during the service were chosen by Nicol himself, who picked his favourite pieces of all time to share with his community.
They included Somewhere Over the Rainbow, What a Wonderful World, Let it Be, Smile, and Angels Among Us to name a few.
Nicol was survived by his older brother John Nicol, who stood up last after an hour of fabulous memories shared by friends and coworkers.
Memories that had the crowd laughing, crying, and reflecting on the impact he had on many lives and his community.
His brother shared what it was like growing up in Brandon, Manitoba and how proud he was of the man Patrick had become.
He said Nicol would have been humbled by the outpouring of love at the service.
He also remembered him as beaming with pride about Vernon and Canada, a country he adored. Canada Day was his favourite day coming in second only to Christmas.
Former physician and Vernon Mayor Dr. Rob Sawatzky was the first to speak and share his fond memories of Nicol.
He remembered Nicol as an impeccably dressed man whose commitment to sports trivia was only rivaled by his commitment to the city in which he lived.
He shared a startling story of how he first met Nicol and it was not in the council chambers.
He was still a doctor at that time and he realized Nicol was sick.
“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.”
He also said Nicol was our own royal family.
“If Vernon had royalty, Patrick would be a member of our royal family,” said Sawatzky.
“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.”
Annette Sharkey also spoke at the service and focused on Nicol’s commitment to the success of others.
She said she truly felt that Nicol believed in her, which for a young woman new in her career, was a huge gift she will always remember.
Cory Kimm spoke on behalf of the broadcast industry, a passion which Nicol lived as he was a broadcaster for decades.
Kimm shared a touching story of Nicol’s compassion.
He said one day when he was away on vacation his pet bird died and Nicol took it upon himself to hold a funeral service for the bird and bury him in a plot in his own backyard.
“He was my north on the compass. He would always put me in the right direction,” said Kimm in tears.
Kimm looked out at the audience and said he loved you so much, meaning the community, and that came out when he was on the radio. He added that every time you turned on the radio Nicol wanted you to feel welcome.
Judi Barnard was a dear friend of Nicol’s and spoke of the night when she was asked to write down funeral directions at his request, Nicol having just learned he did not have much time left to live.
She said that Nicol asked her to make sure people knew he had a great, great life. She added that he never said an unkind word about any person and called her the sister he never had.
City Furniture owner and community advocate Ruby Sharma had many fabulous golf stories to share.
He laughed about how Nicol never drove a car at all but always drove the golf cart, especially at his favourite course in the world, Predator Ridge.
Nicol’s brother John finished his comments by saying that it was impossible to believe he was actually gone as he was such a fighter.
But that he was honoured by everyone’s attendance and is certain he would not see the likes of someone like Nicol ever again in his lifetime.
In memory of Patrick his family is asking that donations may be made to any Vernon and District Community Charity or The Canadian Cancer Society located at #104, 3402 – 27th Avenue, Vernon BC, V1T 1S1 or click here to donate online.