Maureen Martin met Kit Willmot before she had even moved to Ladysmith, and she was “just fascinated” by how much he knew about the town.
Martin, who is president of the Ladysmith and District Historical Society, had purchased a house in Ladysmith in 1996 with her husband Garry. Martin was interested in history and in getting to know the town, and she found Willmot’s name as the only contact for the Ladysmith Historical Society. She phoned him from Vancouver, Willmot invited the Martins to visit him the next time they were in Ladysmith.
“I was fascinated by him because he knew so much,” said Martin. “We went to his place, and he was digging out this and that — he was just so interesting.”
Willmot’s incredible knowledge of Ladysmith’s history and his passion for his community are being remembered this week after he passed away July 3.
Willmot, who was born Aug. 10, 1925, in London, England, was well-known for his work with the Ladysmith and District Historical Society.
He was the society’s corresponding secretary up until about a month ago when he said he was too ill to continue this role.
“He held the historical society together during a period of time when it would have ceased to exist if it wasn’t for him, and we’re forever grateful for that,” said Martin.
Martin nominated Willmot for the Citizen of the Year award, which he won in 2005.
“He’s such a fixture,” she said. “He’s just done so many things for this town. He was really quiet, but he was always busily doing something.”
Willmot and his wife Molly moved to Ladysmith in 1989. Willmot quickly became very involved in his community. He wrote historical articles for the local media, helped produce the Ladysmith centennial book and worked with Viola Cull to produce a Ladysmith history book.
Willmot also volunteered with Meals on Wheels, the Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary, the Morden Mine Society and St. John’s Anglican Church.
Willmot played an important role in starting the Ladysmith Food Bank in 1998.
“Kit was instrumental in getting all that up and was part of that initial group that formulated the running of the food bank,” said Dennis Lait, executive director of the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association.
Lait says what Willmot brought most to the food bank was his passion.
“He was very dedicated to volunteerism, and he was very dedicated to helping other people,” he said. “I would think that his dedication was almost infectious. He inspired other people to be involved. I think that would probably be the biggest thing.”
On behalf of the food bank, a few individuals are organizing a food drive as a tribute to Willmot and all he contributed to the food bank and to the community. Willmot knew about the food drive before he passed away.
“We wanted to do something so he knew we appreciate what he’s done,” said Rob Johnson, one of the organizers of Kit’s Last Food Drive. “This is one way that some of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people that have benefited from Kit’s dedication to the food bank over the years can show their appreciation.”
Kit’s Last Food Drive is running until this Sunday (July 15), and people can drop off donations at the 49th Parallel Grocery Store or Safeway or contact Johnson at ladysmit
People can also bring food and cash donations to the Concerts at the Park performance this Sunday from 6-8 p.m. at Transfer Beach.
“It’s just a way of saying to Kit ‘we appreciate you, we thank you, and we want to honour what you’ve done,’” said Johnson.
The Town of Ladysmith plans to establish a permanent recognition display of outstanding citizens, and the first plaque will be in Willmot’s name.