Likely’s longtime champion Robin Hood passed away on March 17 after a short battle with cancer, leaving behind a long and rich legacy.
Hood, 56, was instrumental in developing Cedar Point Park, Likely Xat’sull Community Forest, the Likely community hall and industrial kitchen, the Bullion Pit and Quesnel Forks historical sites, the museum, boat launch, wharf, cenotaph and the list goes on.
He also served on the Likely Chamber of Commerce, the Cariboo Woodlot Association and the BC Community Forest Association.
“He was involved in everything Likely had going for it,” said Joan Sorley, Area F director with the Cariboo Regional District. “He wasn’t a one-man show, but he was the kind of guy people followed.”
Sorley said it was after the Mount Polley Mine Breach in August 2014, that she really got to know Hood.
“He was able to bring economic diversification funding from the government into Likely after the breach and stretch those dollars as far as possible.”
Hood and his wife, Darlene, arrived in Likely from the Lower Mainland in 1982 and quickly became friends with Likely co-ordinator Lisa Kraus and her husband, Ken Smith.
“They had D&R Tire, he worked for fisheries doing egg takes, for highways, and he was the fire warden,” Kraus said.
Likely was Hood’s passion and he wanted it to prosper, Kraus added.
“He had a heart of gold,” she said, noting Hood died four years to the day that her own father, Lou Kraus, died.
“It’s really crazy they died on the same day,” she said. “I’ll never forget the anniversary.”
Kraus worked alongside Hood applying for grants for their community.
“Rob and I were a good working team and I will miss him,” she said.
In 2004, Hood became the second president of the BC Community Forest Association (BCCFA), a post he held until 2013.
“There were seven community forests when he began and now we have 53 province-wide,” said Jennifer Gunter, executive director of BCCFA.
Hood was someone who was able to take the vision of forest management that was good for the local community, and create social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits, Gunter said.
“I’m sure locally there have always been differing opinions about the community forest, but stepping back and looking at what the community was able to accomplish under Hood’s leadership was such an inspiration for so many of us working in community forestry.”
Even his story about the power going out the night he and some other community members were writing the original application for the community forest and how they continued working by lantern was always popular, Gunter added.
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett first met Hood and Darlene in the early 80s because she and her late husband, Jack, had a cabin at Likely.
They all volunteered together hosting B.C. logger sport events that attracted participants from as far away as Australia.
“He was the icon of Likely,” Barnett said of Hood.
“He was the first person to make a community forest with a First Nations community.”
He treasured the community forest, treated it with respect and because of it was able to create a lot of economic opportunities for people in his community who didn’t have work, Barnett said.
Hood acquired a woodlot in 1997 and became president of the Cariboo Woodlot Association (CWA) in 2003, holding the position for six years.
“Robin was always ready to step forward and get fully involved in whatever he did,” said CWA president Ian Lanki.
“He was a big guy with a big voice and big personality. He had a commanding presence in a room.”
Lanki said Hood was the kind of person who got things done and wasn’t shy to take up issues with politicians, ministers and premiers.
In 1998, Hood organized the CWA annual general meeting held in Williams Lake and invited guests such as David Suzuki, Herb Hammond and Peter Pearce.
Staff at the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Centre said Hood was a great promoter of the Likely area for many years.
“When staff from here toured Likely, Robin was always the first person to greet them and answer any of their questions,” said Jaylyn Byer, executive assistant at the visitor centre.
“He really valued the area and wanted everyone to enjoy it.”
Barnett said it will be hard to fill Hood’s shoes, then chuckling she added his feet were a size 15.
Hood leaves behind his wife, Darlene, her daughters Carla Thompson and Laura Insole and grandchildren Jena and Dylan Insole, and his sister Amanda Switzer.
A celebration of life for Hood is planned for Saturday, July 30 at Cedar Point Park in Likely, with music and dancing, Kraus said.