By Dave Handy, president of the Creston Valley Rotary Club
Al Garrecht, well-known in the Creston community for his service with the Creston Valley Rotary Club (CVRC) and many other organizations, is leaving Creston this month and moving to Castlegar to be near his family.
Al and his wife, Doreen, fell in love with Creston on a visit here in the late 1990s, and in particular with the friendliness of the community, and for Al, the Creston golf course. They moved here in 1997 and made Creston home, but all who know Al Garrecht agree that he leaves Creston a better place because of how he lived and served others.
Raised on a farm in Saskatchewan, Al remembers times with his father listening on the radio to their favourite sports teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Yankees, but mostly remembers his dad for inspiring him to serve.
“When I was a young lad, my dad was very active in the community, and he always reminded me to get involved,” said Al. Al did that as a Kinsman in Saskatchewan and since 1987 when he first joined Rotary.
Al’s working career in banking started in Maple Creek, Sask., in 1960 when he answered an ad in the local paper brought to his attention by his mother. He worked with CIBC in various Saskatchewan locations before spending time with the bank in Prince Rupert, B.C., and then to Creston as manager of the local branch.
Al did most of his volunteer work in leadership and service with the CVRC, but he also found time to serve with Handy Capable Housing Society, the Creston Golf Club and the Holy Cross Catholic Church.
Al was honoured at the regular CVRC meeting on Feb. 9, 2021. The picture shows Al holding a plaque acknowledging his “service above self” to our community and Rotary club, and appointing him an honorary member for life in CVRC. He is also wearing a vest presented to him by the club with a Paul Harris +2 pin.
The club surprised Al with the tribute meeting, and only when he saw both of his daughters “show up” on his Zoom screen did he figure out that something special was about to take place. In addition to Leann and Marcy giving virtual and in-person accolades to their dad, the club and Al heard from his parish priest, Fr. Lawrence, Rotary District 5080, Tim Park, Rick Minichiello, and letters from the Golf Club president and the Handy Capable Housing Society.
Heartfelt best wishes were also delivered with emotion from Danielle Sonntag and Gin Bergman, along with a humorous piece from his good friend, Walt Reider, who recounted the “bobcat” incident from work during the construction of Millenium Park. All members and guests expressed countless good wishes to Al, with the comment made that our Rotary club can replace him with two to three hard-working Rotarians. Al will be missed, and all members of CVRC wish him well.
Thank you, Al Garrecht. You leave an incredible legacy of service with CVRC. You live our motto, “Service Above Self”. Thank You.
The entire Feb. 9 meeting was recorded and can be viewed on the CVRC’s YouTube channel, along with a slideshow/video tribute entitled, “Auld Lang Syne – Al Garrecht”.