With 73 years of public and community service behind him, Cy Kelly is the best kind of volunteer.
Which has made it that much harder for Kelly’s colleagues at the Chemainus Community Policing Office to lose him to Victoria.
At 91 years old, Kelly has finally “retired” from a lifetime of service.
That service included a dozen years in Chemainus — both with Community Policing and the Chemainus Mural Society — plus coaching in Ontario and military service in Canada and the United Kingdom.
“To me, involvement in the community is as good as a religion,” said Kelly. “I’m doing what I feel contributes to helping improve what’s going on locally.”
It started some seven decades ago.
“During the time of the Munich meetings in 1938, between Hitler and Chamberlain, I could see something was coming, and it prompted me to join the Naval Reserve.”
And through that work, Kelly got his invite to Canada in 1954.
“I was doing work that was fairly new, called technical illustration,” he explained.
“I finished up (my career) working for Canadian Intelligence. It was highly technical work in engineering: my task was to take a photograph or an image and transfer that into an engineering drawing, which an engineer could take and say what that piece of equipment could do based on its shape, how fast it could go, how high it could fly, what it could carry, that kind of thing.”
It was groundbreaking work during the war and has become a highly developed science that Kelly helped shape.
Even after he retired in 1986, Kelly was still contracted by the Department of National Defence to teach others how to do the work.
In 1999, Kelly’s work earned him a Canadian Forces Military Service Medallion.
That was also the year he moved to Chemainus and started his volunteer work in the Cowichan Valley.
“It was still part of my (attitude) — what can I do to help the community?” Kelly said. “And I tend to look into the history of things, so when I started volunteering I was in the mural kiosk in Waterwheel Park, looking into the history of the murals, the reasons and whys of things, and I’d pass those along to other people.”
Kelly says he’s retired from volunteering, but Community Policing manager Carol-Ann Rolls has her doubts.
“He’s one of those volunteers that’s always there when you need him, that you can always count on,” she said. “Even though he says otherwise, I anticipate it’s only a short time before Cy is involved with another organization in Victoria.”