As time passes, matriarchs and patriarchs of Quesnel pass on and we who remain are left to mourn their loss.
Jack Nelson was one such patriarch who left his mark in many ways on this community. Jack was born in Chemainus, B.C. in 1935 and lived in several areas of the province with his family. Wherever he lived, Jack would carry the memories and at some point they would end up in print, with his humorous trademark stamped all over the stories.
As a young teen he lived on the banks of the river where the Port Mann bridge now stands in Surrey. Many a pocket full of apples would find their way to his mother, always with a story attached about the generosity of his neighbours.
Jack and his large family moved to Quesnel for good in 1951 when Jack was 15. From his stories we know it was winter and a big shock to the family who had just left the Lower Mainland. The stories tell of the hardships and the sweetness of those times; however, it didn’t take too many years for Jack to move into town and land jobs at various lumber plants, shops and stores as he grew into his adulthood.
Perhaps the most memorable and coincidentally his last job, was Willis Harper. With a personality as big as Jack’s, he was soon the go-to guy for anything historical, especially the mid-century life in the small town of Quesnel.
In the Sixties, Jack married his wife Vicky in St. Andrew’s United Church and together they raised their three children, Erik, Andrew and Jennifer.
Jack and Vicky remained steadfast members of the United Church congregation throughout their 55-year marriage. In fact, Vicky remains church secretary.
I met Jack when I first joined the staff at the Observer. From the moment I met him I knew he would be a kindred spirit.
He had talents upon talents and gladly shared them with the entire community through the newspaper, his books, artwork, photography and his many public pursuits. When I needed clarification regarding Quesnel or timelines or details, I started with Jack. Each Christmas he would faithfully provide one of his many entertaining stories for our supplement, accompanied by an equally humorous drawing.
Jack not only ran for mayor, but was also selected as Volunteer Citizen of the Year in 1997, was always ready and willing to deliver a eulogy or sermon and successfully and bravely battled and successfully beat cancer. In 2002 he received the Queen’s Jubilee medal.
Jack, with his big, warm personality (but could also slam a wisecrack when you least expected it) will remain one of Quesnel’s truly glorious characters. Most people who knew Jack could recite many interesting exchanges with him and usually with a big laugh.
Jack took his last sleep on Nov. 20, 2017. A celebration of his life will be held on March 31.
To quote his wife Vicky’s final thoughts on Jack, “A final earthly chapter of a life well-lived.
”With files from Vicky Nelson