Creston's 2013 citizen of the year Henry Schoof

Creston's 2013 citizen of the year Henry Schoof

Henry Schoof named Creston’s 2013 citizen of the year

Web Lead

  • May. 21, 2013 5:00 p.m.

In the 20 years that he has lived in Creston, Henry Schoof has quietly amassed an astonishing volunteer resume. For his long commitment to his community, Schoof was named the 2013 citizen of the year at the Creston Valley Blossom Festival opening ceremonies on Friday night.

Born in 1940 in Rostock, Germany, Schoof earned a diploma in chemical engineering before emigrating to Canada in 1967, where he worked at a Prince Rupert pulp and paper mill. It was that northwestern city that he became a member of the Lions Club, in which he has remained active for 40 years.

Schoof said on Monday that there was no tradition of volunteer service in Germany, but he was quickly drawn in by a friend in Prince Rupert.

“My buddy was in the Lions Club and he said, ‘Why don’t you join, too?’ That’s how it all started.”

He met his “first wife” as he jokingly calls her, Rosie, in Langley in 1979 and they were married in 1985. In 1993, they moved to Creston after purchasing the Downtowner Motor Inn, which they operated until 2007.

Schoof has served as president of the Creston Lions Club on several occasions and, as a Lion, has been involved in Christmas tree sales, the Blossom Festival committee, the street fair, the children’s parade and in the operation and maintenance of the club’s mobile kitchen.

A cook and cleanup specialist, it is a rare Lions Club event where Schoof isn’t working quietly behind the scenes.

In 1997, he became a member of the Creston Rotary Club and has served on the board, is a Paul Harris Fellow and was named the Rotarian of the year. He started the Rotary Interact Club at Prince Charles Secondary School and helped students take on projects such as helping out at an orphanage in Honduras, which they visited twice.

With little fanfare, Schoof has for eight years co-ordinated the collection of used medical equipment that, in partnership with Cranbrook Rotary clubs, is shipped by the container load to developing countries around the world. He has always been quick to pick up a shovel and volunteer on projects like the Centennial Park splash park and playground and the Lawrence Lavender Reading Garden at the library.

Schoof founded the Creston Valley Heide Club in 1994, a German-Canadian group, and served as president for 16 years. The Heide Club started the Oktoberfest in Creston and has sponsored dances to raise funds for community organizations and scholarships.

The popular International chili cook-off at the Blossom Festival is another example of Schoof’s willingness to bring new ideas to the community. Costs became prohibitive, but he simply made it into a local event that was a highlight of the annual festival.

Passionate about literacy, for nine years Schoof has been helping Adam Robertson Elementary School students with a reading program. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings throughout the school year, he spends an hour with Grade 2 and 3 students.

“We were at a Lions meeting and somebody said they needed volunteers for a reading program at ARES,” he recalled. “I said, ‘OK, I’m interested.’ I really like kids. And I love it and the kids like me.”

An active Shriner, Schoof has been a member of the Creston Masonic Lodge since 1994. Shortly after arriving in Creston, Schoof accepted an invitation from Dimitri Karountzos to join the Masons.

“I joined because I was really impressed with what the Shriners do,” he said.

He became a member of the Gizeh Shrine in 1997 and served as the president twice. Also a member of the Bonners Ferry Masons and Shriners, Schoof crosses the border at least twice monthly to participate in activities and meetings.

Why this long, steady commitment to working at so many aspects of his community?

“I am happy to help — that’s my biggest satisfaction,” he said. “And if I take on a project, I go through with it.”

While Schoof’s many volunteer activities don’t usually put him in the spotlight, being named citizen of the year is his second honour recently. In 2012, he was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks.