Goodbye to Russ Hearne

Castlegar News bi-weekly columnist (and city councillor) Gord Turner salutes a departing colleague and friend

Gord Turner

 

People move into your community, give of themselves for a time, and then sometimes travel on. That is the case with Russ Hearne and his family. Opportunity called for Russ, and because he’s still young and upwardly-mobile, he had to go—not far, but the Okanagan is another world.

Russ has been manager of the local Andrew Sheret and Splashes outlet for a number of years now, and his work there has been good for the community of Castlegar. Now, however, he has taken on a larger role overseeing several Andrew Sheret stores in the Okanagan and the store in Castlegar.

It’s not that we won’t see him again, but he won’t pop up at City Council meetings every second Monday and he won’t be standing on the tee every Wednesday on Men’s Night at the golf course. He will be pursuing his career, and as he told City Council, it was too good an offer to turn down.

City Council meetings will definitely not be the same without him. Who now will comment smartly on the latest issue? Who now will find a joke to make the meeting less dull and more alive? Who now will keep Council wondering what will happen next?

Russ Hearne has that amazing ability some people have of coming up with ideas and commentary quickly. In the trade, that is called being able to speak on your feet.  You hear an idea and immediately you respond with the appropriate response or a funny line. That’s our Russ Hearne.

I’ve watched him in several venues—from the splendour of the RCMP Ball to the Chamber’s business awards.  He is always himself and not afraid to give his opinion. People like to be around him, and groups like to have him chair meetings or be the evening’s host.

A few times when he has been chosen as a key speaker or the emcee for an event, he has begun with a few so-so canned jokes. But as the evening progressed, he found his stride and was able to develop humour from situations around him.

Russ has been on City Council since 2007. Since being elected, he has been a strong Councillor, having served on all the committees of Council. He has also been selected as a Council representative to the Castlegar Recreation Commission.

While in Castlegar, when he was not at work, he could be found at the Castlegar Golf Course. Besides his work and his family, golf is his passion. He has worked hard at having a low handicap and improving his game.

I’ve only golfed with him a couple of times, but I do remember the advice he gave me: Trust your shot.  And I thought, yes, that’s what I have to do. However, I soon remembered that I don’t have much of a shot to trust.

While on Council, Russ Hearne was sometimes a bit nonchalant when lightweight material was being presented, but when serious topics such as taxation and infrastructure were on the agenda, he became serious.  He had a way of finding solutions to difficult matters and had the right words to help others understand his ideas.

He didn’t give up easily when he believed a certain direction was necessary for a project. As well, he was a strong advocate for local businesses, trying in the last few budgets to get a better tax break for them.

Russ is extremely proud of his two children and his wife Cheryl. They surround him and help him at many community events. And now they will be moving to Kelowna and energizing that community in the same way they’ve done here.

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