Arnie Zimmerman has called Williams Lake home since 1975.
He was living in Surrey with his wife, Doreen, and their four small children when he decided they needed to escape
the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland.
“I sold my business in White Rock and opened Done-Right Upholstery in Williams Lake,” he recalled.
“I was very successful. I serviced a lot of different logging companies replacing truck seats. It kept me busy.”
He retired in 2000.
Originally from Lodtz, Poland, his father was a police officer who was killed during the Second World War when Zimmerman was seven years old. After his father’s death, he and his mother Helen fled to Germany.
“I can still remember bombers flying and the search lights,” he said of the war.
They emigrated to Canada as refugees in 1948 when he was 10 years old.
A cousin of his mom’s living in Saskatchewan sponsored them.
Eventually they moved to Vancouver. His mom got a job there and he went to school.
“I did not know a word of English, but I learned, went to school until Grade 11 and then quit to go to work and help support my mom,” he recalled.
In 1988 Zimmerman joined the Elks, an organization he believed in. He served as secretary and treasurer and handled bookings of the Elks Hall for many years.
He also joined the B.C. Elks and served as president in 2007.
The Elks Hall had done well, but started struggling a couple of years ago.
That struggle was compounded when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the club was not able to rent out the hall. It made it difficult to pay the bills.
“Bills were piling up and we didn’t have any choice but to sell the hall,” Zimmerman said.
“President Randy Schellenberg and his brother Sam Schellenberg have worked very hard with New Horizons Society to come up with a lease agreement until such time as New Horizons can get the financing to pay for the hall,” Zimmerman noted.
Coming to the point of having to sell the hall has saddened him in some ways, but he added he is really pleased to see the Schellenbergs have found someone to take over the hall.
“I feel quite comfortable with Randy and Sam in charge,” Zimmerman said.
As for New Horizons Society, he said they are a good organization.
‘They are going to open up a centre for children with autism and our Elks Club has always been child-oriented.”
Children have received hearing aids from the Elks and many have attended one of three children’s camps located at Aldergrove, Canoe near Salmon Arm and Denman Island at no charge, he explained.
With only about five members presently, Zimmerman said he hopes they can get more people to join the Elks.
“People are busy and it’s hard to get members to join, but the more members the more we could do.”
Williams Lake it a great place, he added.
“I’ve been telling people I will never move away. Before I came to Williams Lake I didn’t do any hunting, or fishing or snowmobiling. In Williams Lake it’s all right in your backyard. You don’t have that down on the Coast.”
Do you know someone that deserves to be featured in “This is Our Hometown?” E-mail your suggestion to: firstname.lastname@example.org.