Mac Gregory has been named Castlegar’s Citizen of the Year for 2010.

Mac Gregory has been named Castlegar’s Citizen of the Year for 2010.

Mac Gregory named Citizen of the Year

Long-time residents of Castlegar have likely been connected to 2010 Citizen of the Year Mac Gregory in one way or another.

  • Jun. 1, 2011 8:00 p.m.

Long-time residents of Castlegar have likely been connected to 2010 Citizen of the Year Mac Gregory in one way or another.

The retired schoolteacher, who will receive the award tonight at St. Rita’s Parish Hall, is an active contributor to the community. He currently sits on School District 20’s Board of Education, is chair of Zone 6 for the BC Seniors Games and is chair of the Kootenay Columbia Educational Heritage Society, just to name a few of his involvements.

“People say, ‘oh you’re retired you must have lots of time now,’” Gregory said, but this definitely isn’t the case.

Gregory also served as a fireman and first responder with the Castlegar Fire Department for 25 years.

“I still work for the Volunteer Firefighters Association of B.C.,” he said, where he serves as executive director.

Within city limits, he regularly volunteers at Castle Wood Village (his wife, Kathy, said he always goes to dance with the ladies), serves as president of the Castlegar and District Seniors Association, and looks after three sections of road as a part of the Adopt a Road program.

“He’s the best husband and father and grandfather,” his wife Kathy said. Together the couple has five kids and “too many grandchildren to count,” she added.

The Gregorys moved to Castlegar in 1968.

“I taught one year in Nakusp and we had the same superintendent so I was transferred,” he said. “I came down to teach Grade 5 but I’ve taught everything from Grade 3 to Grade 8.”

Although he has happy memories of teaching, being an educator in a small city can be bittersweet.

“Every school I’ve taught in is no longer there,” he said.

Between teaching and firefighting, Gregory said the choice was easy when a decision had to be made.

“I didn’t respond (to emergency calls) when I was teaching,” he said. “My first responsibility was to the kids.”

Gregory said the work he does is simply his duty to Castlegar.

“If you’re going to be in a community, rather than complain about how things are, you get out there and contribute,” he said.

Bob Saari of the Knights of Columbus (which sponsors the annual Citizen of the Year Award) said Gregory has been nominated the last three years, but last year he really stood out for the committee.

“The credentials that came forward for 2010 really surprised all of us,” he said. “He just kept going.”

Saari added that this year featured a great cross-section of nominations.

“Mac Gregory certainly did get the majority of nominations from groups and individuals,” he said. “[He], in particular, has contributed in the community of Castlegar for years and years and years.”

Once the nominations are narrowed down, the committee gets input from the community, such as business owners and city council.

“There wasn’t a negative response from anybody that was polled,” Saari said.

Gregory said he’s looking forward to sharing the award with friends and family.

“It’s a great honour to be compared to all those that have won it in the past,” he said. “There are a lot of people that have contributed to the building of this city that have won citizen of the year.”

He said he doesn’t volunteer expecting to be rewarded, “but it’s nice when it happens.”

Gregory said he owes a lot of what he’s been able to accomplish in the community to his wife.

“You can’t get through this kind of volunteering without her, and she’s usually right there with me,” he said. “When I first started volunteering I said, ‘you don’t mind if I go out for an hour a week?’ And that just kind of multiplied.”

Gregory said the citizen of the year program is a great initiative to encourage others to get out in their communities, but he won’t slow down because of the award.

“We’re going to keep doing what we do,” he said.