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Celebrated White Rock officer found common ground
Mention Mike Lane's name to anyone who worked with him or knew him and the responses will be virtually identical.
The former RCMP constable was dedicated to his family and work, had a great sense of humour and – though he was often celebrated over the course of his career – preferred to leave the limelight to others.
"He always pushed other people to the front, but he did all the work behind the scenes," Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg recalled Tuesday.
"He's had a great life and a great family and contributed greatly to the community."
Lane passed away at sunrise on July 11, at the age of 74.
Family members remember him as a man who loved reading, laughing and time with family; who taught his daughters strength, courage and compassion.
In policing, the White Rock officer's passion for reconciling the relationship between the First Nations and RCMP was well-known.
A significant demonstration of that dedication came in 1999, when 'The Gift' – two totem poles carved to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the RCMP – was raised on East Beach, in what is now the Grand Chief Bernard Charles Memorial Plaza.
Lane told Peace Arch News in April 2000, in a retirement interview, that the project was one he was particularly proud of.
"Not just the significance of the pole, but the doors that were opened between us and the First Nations," Lane said.
The experience created an enormous opportunity for forgiveness and understanding, he said. It also led Lane to have a permanent reminder of the milestone tattooed on his right foreman – a double thunderbird, the logo of the Semiahmoo First Nation.
"I just felt very comfortable having it done," he said.
Famed First Nations artist Robert Davidson this week recalled Lane's dedication to the project, which symbolized the healing from rifts and grievances of the past.
"He did an incredible job by instigating that plaza – he was very sincere and committed to whatever he took on," Davidson said.
"And he maintained the friendship after the project. Quite often people move on, but he was a gentleman through and through."
Lane started White Rock's first community policing section in 1993 and much of what is done through there today – from Block Watch to Victim Assistance – has its roots in programs he initiated.
Crime prevention co-ordinator Julia Everett said Lane was also responsible for the Red Serge fundraising events that benefited the volunteer programs.
"Always modest, he never wanted to take the recognition he deserved for all that he did for the community," she said.
Everett described Lane as "a wonderful man with a great sense of humour… very much a family man."
Lane came to White Rock after 15 years as a Mountie. He joined the RCMP as a special constable in 1974, and spent the next eight years posted to the Vancouver airport.
It was during this time that he received his first Commanding Officer's Commendation, for disarming a knife-wielding suspect. (His second came in 2000, for the role he played in bringing the totem pole project together.)
Lane became a regular officer in 1982, at the age of 43, and went on to work in Richmond before arriving in White Rock in 1989.
When he retired 11 years later, he wasn't shy about the fact he wouldn't miss the front-and-centre role he'd held throughout his time at the White Rock detachment.
"You're always on display and it'll be nice not to be," he told PAN. "I won't miss that part at all."
At the same time, he recognized his penchant for making things happen.
"If I had a forte, it's bringing people together to make things work," he said.
Former colleague Const. Jim Garnett – he and Lane worked together at the airport and with Richmond RCMP – remembered Lane could be sold on an idea or project if he could see it would have an impact on others.
"Mike was always interested in doing things that would make a difference. If he thought something would make a difference, he could see himself participating in it."
Hogg remembers speaking at Lane's retirement party in Peace Arch Park about the things most people hope for when they retire: to have lived, loved and left a legacy.
"If those three things are true, he certainly did them well," he said.
Lane is survived by his wife of 47 years, Dianne, daughters Glenna and Erin and four grandchildren. True to Lane's preference to stay out of the spotlight, a public service has not been planned. Anyone wishing to pay tribute is encouraged to donate in his memory to White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society or BC Children's Hospital.
– with files from Alex Browne