Eric Bysouth lived a long, honourable and very productive life. He died at the age of 89 on Friday after a brief illness.
I first got to know Eric when I began doing some relief work here at The Times in the mid-1990s. He was clearly a “doer,” involved in many aspects of community life. One of his most publicized contributions at that time was his annual report cards on the performance of Langley Township council.
It took a fair bit of courage to go and speak to elected politicians, most of whom, have a high opinion of themselves, and point out both the good and bad resulting from their decisions. Nonetheless, he was quite willing to do so.
His reports could be considered as constructive criticism. They were certainly not mean-spirited or personal.
Eric was a longtime member of the Langley Rotary Club, and many of his community projects sprang from that ivolvement. Among the projects the club was involved in were the Rotary fieldhouse at McLeod Athletic Park, and playing field development on a portion of the former Langley Central school property at 208 Street and Fraser Highway.
In more recent years, several of the club members, with Eric playing a key role, helped form the Arboretum and Botanical Society of Langley to build an arboreturm and garden on Township-owned land which has now become the Derek Doubleday Arboretum. They have put in countless volunteer hours in helping get the arboretum off the ground, and despite Eric’s Township report cards, the society has received excellent support from the Township in making this project become a reality.
I had an opportunity to visit Eric in hospital a couple of months ago. I think he was somewhat surprised to see me, as I have known him through many activities, but not all that well personally. Nonetheless, I wanted to say hello to him as I have nothing but respect for his involvement in Langley.
At an age when many people slow down, he kept going. He wrote numerous well-reasoned and very interesting letters to the editor, many of which prompted response from other readers. That is a measure of how he was capable of putting ideas on the table.
When I visited him, he was reading a copy of The Economist, an influential magazine that reports on economic, political and social trends throughout the world. I had a better sense of where some of his ideas put forward in his letters were coming from.
One of Eric’s proudest honours was receiving the H.D. Stafford Good Citizen of the Year award, way back in 1993. He was always at the annual chamber of commerce dinner where the newest recipient was named, and was proud of his friendship with the late Harold Stafford.
Nominations for this year’s award are now being accepted, and I can think of no better way to honour Eric than by nominating a worthy person for this honour. If anyone in this community was a good citizen, it was Eric Bysouth.