PORT HARDY—The Civic Centre filled with a diverse cross-section of North Islanders Friday, all drawn to honour the memory of Port Hardy Mayor Bev Parnham.
The brief Remembrance of Life, attended by more than 500 people, was marked by both tears and laughter and included a brief, unscripted thank you from Parnham’s three daughters, Leah Kos, Brittany Exner and Kendra Hall.
Dignitaries included Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan, who spoke as part of the program, and B.C. Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon, who attended as a guest. Parnham’s Campbell River counterpart, Mayor Walter Jakeway, also attended as a guest.
The audience was a virtual cross-section of North Islanders, featuring representatives of all local governments, health authority offices, industry and First Nations. Parnham’s family was escorted into the Civic Centre by Port Alberni piper Phil MacKenzie and occupied the first several rows of chairs, in front of a memorial table covered with photos, flowers, flags and aboriginal art.
Acting Mayor Jessie Hemphill gave the opening prayer in Kwak’wala and was followed by memorial addresses by Duncan, by District of Port Hardy CAO Rick Davidge and by School District 85 trustee Jeff Field, Parnham’s former co-worker when she served as secretary at Port Hardy Secondary School.
Parnham’s close friend Cathie Poje then read three letters from Port Hardy’s sister city of Numata, Japan, which she visited with the Twinning Society in 2009.
The letters came from the mayor, from the town council and from Numata’s Twinning Society, and all expressed heartfelt wishes to Parnham’s family, friends and the community in general.
The memorial took on a lighter tone when Poje and Deb Huddlestan, two of Parnham’s closest friends, took the podium. They regaled the audience with stories of outings with Bev and various children and grandchildren, highlighting the fun and sometimes zany behaviour in a touching but humorous presentation that ended with the pair donning the leopard-print, thrift-shop shifts all three women broke out for “special” occasions.
The eulogy was presented by Parnham’s cousin, Glenda Patterson, and was followed by Bev’s three daughters, who alternately laughed and cried as they remembered their mother and thanked the community for its support.
A slide show set to music then played on the large screen in front of the stage before closing remarks from Bill Jennings sent the audience off to tables loaded with refreshments.