A respectful and admiring group of family and friends gathered at Mountain View Lodge recently to bid farewell to two Bella Coola Valley community stalwarts, Ed and Margaret Nash.
After building their home here, raising a family, and serving the community for nearly five decades, Ed (92) and Margaret (87) have left the Valley for Kamloops where they will be closer to family.
The Nashes arrived with their four children in Bella Coola in 1968 when Ed took a teaching position at Sir Alexander Mackenzie School (SAMS) where his focus was on teaching math and science. Milica Epp, organizer of the Farewell Tea and a former teacher herself, told the gathering that many of Ed’s former students might remember him as “Mr. Nash”, but he also earned the nickname “Steady Eddy” because “the students always knew what he wanted, and so they came to appreciate him as a teacher.”
Former student, Diane Stiles, on vacation in Bella Coola, discretely refrained from telling student jokes about her former teacher, saying only that Ed Nash was a “great teacher” and it was because of his teaching that she “sailed through math and science” at SAMS.
Former SAMS colleague and personal friend Peter Fralick said Ed was a teacher who always wore a jacket and tie, “and he always put the interests of the kids ahead of anything else.” SAMS retiree Charlie Endicott, who arrived in the Valley five years after the Nashes said he was fortunate to join a staff that included three outstanding teachers and mentors: Bob Loosmore “who was always Bob Loosmore,” the “flamboyant” Derek Best, and the “steady and methodical” Ed Nash.
Responding to the accolades about his career at SAMS, Ed waxed philosophical, quoting Albert Einstein, saying “Education is what’s left over after you’ve forgotten what you learned in school.” He went on to say that over a lifetime, a person first learns, then gains experience, and maybe, after the learning and experience, becomes truly “educated.”
Ed further noted that he and Margaret, in their 47 years in the Valley “have probably been on every possible committee,” much of this in the 32 years since his retirement from SAMS. He told the gathering they had learned from their community service work that “when you serve, you find you get something back.”
And serve the community they did indeed!
Margaret was a founding member of the Bella Coola Hospital Auxiliary 35 years ago, serving as Treasurer and Secretary. Heather Knudsen described her as “excellent, efficient” and “a dedicated, inspiring volunteer”, noting that even after failing health prevented her attending meetings, she continued to phone community supporters for donations.
Margaret Brekke described her as an “energetic and dedicated” volunteer for the Canadian Cancer Society, and presented her with a certificate and pin acknowledging her 30 years of service in that organization.
Margaret also volunteered on the Fall Fair Board for 22 years, much of the time as Treasurer and Secretary, typing detailed minutes. During the fair, she organized the judging and kept supplies in order. For 18 years she served as Secretary of the Augsburg Ladies Aid, introducing typed minutes, selling raffle tickets, baking and handing out tickets at the group’s auctions.
“Sometimes,” Epp told the gathering, “she even supplied the prizes, worked in the kitchen, and bid generously on the items she wanted.” In addition to this, Margaret served on the board of the Centennial Swimming Pool.
Likewise, Ed served on various boards and committees throughout his time in the Valley. During his 16 years on a number of health-related boards, he was instrumental in getting Bella Coola included in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. He was also active in securing the licence for Bella Coola’s Community Forest. For more than 20 years, Ed served as Treasurer of the Bella Coola Rod and Gun Club and was instrumental in acquiring the Saloompt site of the Club’s shooting range.
He was also active in creating Bella Coola’s summer softball games for which he specialized in training umpires. The Nashes were also among the Valley’s most avid bridge players, and Ed became well known for his retirement hobby: hand-crafting a wide variety of high-quality knives.
While the kudos offered at the Nash’s Farewell Tea were varied and numerous, perhaps the most telling was one describing Ed Nash as “the most truly honest person I have ever met” and another calling him “the most scrupulous, honest, civic-minded man I’ve ever met”.
As the Nashes were preparing to leave the Valley, Ed said he and his younger daughter would be sharing the driving, but that she would be driving up The Hill because he is always accused of driving “too close to the edge”. “I just keep on my side of the road,” he explained. Of their new life in Kamloops, he invites visitors, wryly adding, “there’s an open door. Please come in, but please go back out.”
The potluck Farewell Tea was organized by Milica Epp, Paula Fralick, Barb Gilbert, Maryanne Gurr, Connie Nygaard, Susan Osmers, Dianne Tuck, and June Vosburgh (a group of nine ladies who met regularly in recent years – now, with the departure of Margaret Nash, reduced to eight.)