With a smile that never stops, Andy Kozley is always ready to welcome and eager to help those in need in his town of Fort St. James.
Kozley’s parents arrived in B.C. from Slovakia, then Czechoslovakia.
Their son, Andy was born in Princeton, B.C. and learned English in his first year at school in Langley.
Kozley’s father worked as a miner and then dairy farmer and it was expected that his son was to help out on the 40 acre farm.
But after a while, Kozley decided that it was time to give up farming and try something new.
At the age of 24, he began a career with the B.C. Liquor Board as an auxiliary employee.
From Langley, Kozley was then transferred to 100 Mile House where he became a permanent staff member.
It was there, that he met the love of his life, Bonnie. They were married in May, 1966 and drove away into the sunset in Kozley’s 1955 Pontiac headed for Fort St. James.
There, Kozley accepted a position as Liquor Store Manager and held that role for 35 years until his retirement in May, 1995.
“When we first moved here, I opened the first liquor store in Fort St. James in 1969. Before this, people had to travel to Vanderhoof to buy their spirits. There was no liquor store in town,” Kozley said.
Kozley, now 78, says that the job was full of fun. He enjoyed meeting people and everyone in Fort St. James was very friendly.
“It was really different back then though,” Kozley said. “We had to have crew cuts and wear bow ties when selling liquor. It was all about customer service. Customers came first.”
And service is something Kozley is still very passionate about today.
As a driver for the Seniors Helping Seniors program, Kozley helps provide free transportation to those who face mobility challenges by providing grocery delivery, transportation to medical appointments and to social and wellness events in and outside of town including Vanderhoof and Prince George.
“I figure I might be too old one day and I might need that service too,” Kozley says.
Kozley also helped build the Fort St. James Curling Club in 1973 and served on the board at Pioneer Place, the senior’s residence in Fort St. James.
Today, Kozley looks forward to his 50th wedding anniversary in May and his 60th school reunion in July.
He and his wife Bonnie share a love of curling and enjoy visiting their son, Andrew, daughter-in-law Joanne and two grandchildren in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.
But all in all, Kozley is happy to call Fort St. James home.
“I’m happy in Fort St. James. I love the four seasons here, it’s a good climate and lots of good people.”