By Rollie Rose – Special to the Chronicle
A former city councilor, a concern for youth and the environment, and an unabiding defender of Ladysmith, this was John Wilson, who passed away (June 19, 2020 ). He was 82.
There was nothing pretentious about John Trueman Wilson, what you saw was what you got. He was born in Chemainus in 1938 and came to Ladysmith to attend high school in 1952.
He enjoyed working as an umpire with the Little League kids. His popularity as an umpire was spectacular. Teams up and down the island asked him to manage their games because to him umpiring wasn’t all about strikes and balls, just as important was to encourage the little people that they could indeed hit the next pitch.
Over a 13-year period he was a cornerstone of city council. He always did his homework and arrived at the council table prepared for the night’s agenda, he was direct and cost conscious. When highways wanted to roll out its usual cookie-cutter upgrade on the Ladysmith Esplanade, Wilson said no way, he wanted something more attractive for the town. He fought for it and won.
Retired city manager Ruth Malli said it best, “my best memory of John is that once he stated his position, he didn’t change it just because a different point of view joined the discussion. You had to know him because he had boundaries and he lived with them.”
His favorite council task was looking after public works where his concern for the environment was front and centre. Maybe next was his role as a volunteer fireman. He spent 20 years with the Ladysmith department.
He was called “Mr. Telephone” because he was B.C. Tel’s lone technician in Ladysmith. It was a good guess that over time he answered calls to every house in this then borough of fewer than 3,000 souls (circa early-1970s)
While atop a pole in the Ladysmith-Saltair border during a period when there was controversy that maybe Saltair would be better off joining the town, he was spotted by the late Len Platt who was the area’s regional district director. Platt immediately called the Chronicle to report Wilson was only pretending to work while up the pole when in fact he was spying on Saltair.
When John passed he took a piece of Ladysmith with him, and left his wife, Sheila, a treasure of memories.
RIP John Wilson, for you served your city well.