The recent passing of both James (Jim) Craigen and Vera Craigen (nee Auger) will no doubt give us pause to consider how they left their mark on Williams Lake.
For any of you who attended grade school during the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, or even the early 2000s may have fond memories of attempting to best Jim during one of his lunchtime chess tournaments.
Here he would encourage elementary students by playing multiple games simultaneously, often armed merely with a king and his pawns.
Faithful readers of the Tribune will remember Jim’s regular columns Just thinking, and later Chess Thinking, wherein he would take on various issues of the day, often combining his particular brand of moral insight and good-natured humour.
Much of Jim’s life revolved around the newspaper business.
From his early beginnings as a young journalist in Powell River to his later columns in the Tribune and even delivery routes for the Tribune, Sun and Province, he was never far from the printed page.
Jim was a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada during the 1960s and 70s, a time when the party experienced many upheavals.
Jim has told us of his hopes to reform the system of representation in favour of improving the Cariboo region.
As for Jim’s personal political views, these were harder to pin down.
Often times he could be found in many of the local restaurants engaged in lively debates where he would take the opposing side merely to advance the discussion. He lived up to his own often repeated view that one should “not merely look for evidence that supports one’s views, but look for that which challenges them too.”
So although his personal political views may have been hard to tease out of him, what was clear was how much he valued open and thoughtful debate.
If you were married or attended a wedding any time in the last 40 years, most likely your church organist was Vera Craigen.
As much as newspapers were a part of Jim’s life, music was as deep a part of Vera’s.
From her early years on her parents’ farm in Guelph, Ontario, to the private lessons she gave in her own home, she was never far from a piano or organ keyboard.
While Jim was a reporter in Powell River, Vera was the lead accompanist for the travelling Elgar Choir. And when Jim got the chance to interview Vera for the paper it was the beginning of a love story that spanned over six decades.
And even a busy life as a mother of five boys and a girl, with a husband then travelling the province, Vera still managed to give piano lessons, prepare students for the local music festivals, and accompany as organist for regular church services at St. Andrews United Church, where they were members since shortly after arriving in Williams Lake in 1966.
As her children grew and moved on, Vera remained active in her service to the community.
She regularly volunteered at Deni House to play popular music for the patients and staff there. Her deep love of classical music was augmented by the deep affection she received for performing more light hearted tunes such as Roll Out the Barrel.
Vera Passed away this May 25, 2012, preceded by Jim in 2008.
Their memory lives on in those who came to know and love them.
On Monday Aug. 13, at 3 p.m. a committal service for Jim and Vera will be held at 623 Dog Creek Rd, where there will be an opportunity to share memories of Jim and Vera with surviving family members, including many family members travelling from across Canada.
The family invites others who wish to mark Jim and Vera’s passing to join them on that day.
A small informal reception will follow that evening in the basement of the St. Andrew’s United Church at 1000 Huckvale Place.
Community members are welcome to attend. Contact Sue Goddard 604-240-5867 or 250-392-6045 or email@example.com.