Vicky (Victoria Goresky) Pettitt passed away peacefully on Sept.16 after ninety years. Gordon Pettitt, Vicki’s partner of 50 years, predeceased her in 1995.
Vicky was born in Stonewall, Manitoba, the thirteenth child of Victoria and Basil Goresky. She was the last living member of that generation of the family. Being raised on the Goresky farm, initially during the depression and then during WWII, times were hard. It was difficult to find help to work on the farm, and money was scarce. Eventually, she moved to Winnipeg to live with her brother Norman, where she completed high school and Business School. Vicky married Gordon Pettitt in 1944 after a 48 hour romance, while he was on leave from the Canadian Navy during WWII. At the time, Gordon’s sister Betty, and Vicky’s brother Allan were part of the wedding party, and they eventually married, as well. Gordon had another year of service, and after the war, it was difficult to find a job. He “lucked into” a poorly paying job in furniture manufacturing in Winnepeg. In 1946, at the suggestion of Vicky’s elder brother Dr. Victor Goresky, Gordon and Vicky came to Castlegar, hoping to find better paying work in BC. They initially lived with Victor, and Gordon soon found employment with the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company (Cominco) in Trail.
Once there was a secure income, Gordon sought to pursue his passion for photography. He undertook correspondence (long-distance) education, and, before long, their home became a photographic studio and laboratory(dark room) for creation of beautiful portraits and scenes around Castlegar. At the beginning, most photography was in black and white; Gordon learned to hand colour his work, and skillfully and patiently produced a number of colourful masterpieces.
Gordon’s work was well received, and in 1954 Gordon and Vicky opened Pettitt Photos in a rented shop in the “Fomenoff Building” on Columbia Avenue in downtown Castlegar. The store opened with one Brownie Hawkeye Camera and 6 rolls of film on the shelves. For a year or so Vicky managed the store while Gordon continued with 2 jobs — working at Cominco, and doing shifts in the darkroom and the studio when he had time off. The business progressed, and by mid 1955 Gordon was able to manage full time photography and sales. By 1960 the Pettitt’s were building a new store on Pine street, now Third Street, east of Columbia avenue. They were the first commercial building to be built on this strip, which was, at the time, a gravel road. Their building still stands today. Gordon and Vicky had two sons, and they became participants in the family business, putting in many hours behind the scenes. In 1979 Gordon retired from the business, and it was ultimately purchased by Vogue studios.
Gordon documented with photos much of the life in our community — sports events, weddings, demonstrations, construction development, and changes in our city. His photographs can be seen in many historical documents about Castlegar, Kinnaird, and the Kootenays. Because Pettitt Photos operated as a family business, Vicky never collected a salary, but she kept the business afloat. Having attended business school in Winnipeg, she had learned to be a good financial manager and a reliable business owner.
Youthful retirement permitted Gordon and Vicki to explore western North America and many of the local backcountry trails in the West Kootenays. Quite often they could be seen walking the sidewalks of north Castlegar up until the early 1990’s.
Vicky was alert, inquisitive, and entertaining until the end. She always had an opinion, especially about the government and politics. Although loved by many members of the family, she was often deprecating of herself. She had a special affiliation with the Goresky farm in Winnipeg. She kept in touch with close family members on a daily basis and many others on a regular basis. For that, she will be especially missed — an integral connection with our history has been lost with her passing. She knew who we were and where we had come from. Fare thee well, Victoria.
Vicky is survived by son Craig Pettitt of New Denver BC, son Darryl Pettitt of Rossland BC and his wife Vicki, their daughter Frances (Pettitt) Watthanaya, her husband Boom and great granddaughter Parvati Whatthanaya of Thailand.
A celebration of Life will be held in Vicky’s honour at Resker Hall next to the Robson Community Church on Saturday, October 1, 2016 between 2 and 4 pm.