I had a fabulous weekend in Vancouver with my family and came back to work on Monday morning only to be called into an impromptu staff meeting. Very unusual.
We were told right away that our unit boss, an associate vice-president, had died of a massive heart attack, suddenly and without warning, while away on a trip in Europe for work. There were shared gasps and exclamations and one loud cry, followed by sobbing, as soon as the news broke.
This past week, we have been in shock – the entire department has really been stunned. It was totally unexpected and this VP was well-loved by his team.
On Friday, we had a memorial service for him, with 3 colleagues, 4 students and one family member standing up to share memories and words about him. It was sad, but you know, it was really really nice. It really was a kind and warm celebration and remembrance of all the quirky, inspiring and a number of really funny things about him, shared together. It was the first memorial service I’ve ever attended where there was as much laughter (maybe more) as there were tears. I really felt that Dr. Wes was fondly respected and liked by his staff.
My own last conversation with him took place 4 days before he had passed away, his last day in Kamloops. I heard that he was Downton Abbey fan and stopped him in the hall to mention it. We enthusiastically dissected the plotlines of the main characters in the previous season and speculated briefly on the upcoming year. We planned to commiserate together as the new season commenced and he invited me to his office to have post-episode discussions.
It’s a good memory I have of him and I will always think of him when I wear my Downton t-shirt.