I would like to start by thanking the Alllarie family for asking me to say a few words today. I am very honoured to do so, and I hope in the next few minutes I will do Gerry’s memory justice.
When Erin asked me to say a few words today, I couldn’t even respond, trying desperately not to cry in front of them. In my mind I wanted to say no, but with Brian mouthing the words, “you should say something”, I knew my fate was sealed. As I left I tried to get the words out to tell Erin I would be happy to speak, instead I broke down and started crying.
Loudly in fact voicing how hard the day had been. I was so embarrassed to be telling this family who was dealing with so much that I was having a “hard day”.
As the week went on I struggled to understand why I was so affected. On Tuesday I listened to our council speak passionately about Gerry and about how we needed to do something to honor his memory and the need to lower the flags out of respect. Joey called me to ask for a picture of the flags as he was working on a project for the family and talked about how great a man he felt Gerry was. I talked with Ray who insisted some recognition needed to come for a man that had been a “sounding board” and guiding so many.
Gerry was a great man, who was such a pillar of this community. I saw postings on Facebook from his current and former staff talking about how great a boss he was and to most they saw him as much more than just an employer.
I saw comments from business leaders talking about him as an icon, a visionary and more importantly a leader.
Other phrases I read used words like; inspiration, a dedicated volunteer, a remarkable man.
There were posts from people all over this community and messages from many far away. He had touched many lives and a whole community was, and is hurting.
What has become obvious was that we have lost a man that people looked up to, a man people trusted and respected, a man that made our lives better because he was a part of it. I was fortunate to meet Gerry at a very young age, but wouldn’t realize until years later how much of an impact he had on my life.
When I started running the store Gerry was a great sounding board for business advice. He and Bonnie came to the store often for lunch and we would talk about business, economy, staff, and the community. Over time I began to search him out as he provided a wealth of knowledge and insight. It always came with a no non -sense approach to things…… and you just do it because it needs to be done.
He was a big supporter of mine when I decided to go into politics and truth be told, his stories were part of the reason I decided to do it in the first place. I sought out his advice again when I was asked to step up and be Mayor. His support and guidance in my early days made the job a whole lot easier. In the last few years I think he started to seek me out. He loved to know the inner workings of what was going on at the Town, finding out what all the inside info was, and offer his thoughts and perspective on what we should be doing.
More than that though, and most importantly he wanted to see us, as a town, succeed. That’s wanted he wanted for this community, that’s what he wanted for all of us in this room. And so the reason I hurt so much this week is because sometimes we don’t know how close we were to someone until they are not there anymore.
I am especially glad that I got to see him about a week before he passed. We talked for close to an hour, about politics in the old days and politics now. I took the opportunity to thank Gerry for all he had done for our community and for myself. To hear him say how impressed he was with what we were doing was one of the proudest moments of my life. I will forever be grateful I had that moment with him.
I came today to speak as the current Mayor of Slave Lake and I am confident I can say on behalf of the people of this community to the Allarie Family you have our deepest condolences for your loss of such a great man.
To Gerry, I say thank-you for all you have done for all of us over the years. This community thanks you for leaving it better than the way you got it, and we all will continue to try and do the same.
I want to say thank you, for the advice, for the wisdom, for your laugh, and for our chats.
I will miss them dearly.