Andy and Linda Sullivan arrived in Williams Lake in June 1979.
They’d been living on Vancouver Island when Andy applied for the position of assistant secretary treasurer for School District 27.
He was successful and the family moved north.
The Sullivans met in Ladysmith, where they were both working at the school board office. Andy was an accountant and Linda was the clerk secretary for basically everyone in the board office.
She was the oldest of three girls, growing up in Chemainus, where her father was a crane operator at the MacMillan Bloedel mill in town. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom.
Andy grew up north of Grand Prairie, Alta. in a little place called Valhalla Centre. His father was a labourer, his mother a teacher. In fact, his mom taught him for four years of elementary school.
“We lived in teacherages,” Andy recalled.
The Sullivans were married in Ladysmith on March 28, 1970, Andy’s birthday.
“I always say it was the best present he ever got,” Linda said smiling.
From Ladysmith they moved to Nanaimo, where Andy worked at Malaspina College when it was first getting started.
He then worked for two years at the North Vancouver SchoolBoard, while Linda worked for the West Vancouver School Board.
It was the couples’ opportunity to see if they liked living in the big city, they said.
They returned to Vancouver Island and from there made the move to Williams Lake.
Andy stayed with School District 27 for 20 years, working as secretary treasurer for the last three.
When the Sullivans arrived in Williams Lake there were about five houses available to buy. They wanted a house that was close to the schools so they wouldn’t have to move again.
Eventually they chose a home near Nesika, Anne Stevenson and Columneetza schools so their sons could make their own way to school, without having to be bused.
Linda admitted the first year in Williams Lake was a challenge. She missed the ocean, her family, and the year they moved to Williams Lake there were three weeks of hot days with temperatures 90 Celsius plus.
“I don’t do heat well so for that first while I just about died. I cried and missed my family and then thought I’d better pick up my boots straps and go out and meet people.”
That led to her being part of a coffee group for moms, volunteering at the United Church and eventually volunteering at Marie Sharpe elementary school.
“Our kids were in Nesika, but they had more than enough volunteers there, and I wanted to volunteer somewhere. There was an ad in the paper for a library/secretary person so I went and volunteered there for quite a few years,” Linda recalled, adding she also adopted a senior at a care home and took her out on excursions. Most of her volunteer time was when her kids were young and in school.
When the boys were almost finished school, she began working in the registrar’s office at Cariboo College in 1990. She stayed there until four years ago, retiring from what is now Thompson Rivers University.
Andy said he enjoyed the region from the get go.
“I was raised in a farming community, and being in the Cariboo meant we were almost right in the middle of where our parents were so there was lots of visiting back and forth.
His first foray into volunteering began with boy scouts. Both sons were involved and it was rewarding, Andy said.
“We had campouts and Linda would help with the meals. There were winter campouts too where we were in a lodge and it was kind of fun.”
Andy also volunteered on the board of the UBC Research Forest for three years, and for four or five years with Big Brothers Big Sisters because they used the UBC forestry camp at Gavin Lake.
He’s been on the board for the Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy for seven years. For five years he volunteered one-on-one at a school with a student that was having problems with English and Math.
Then he joined Citizens on Patrol six years ago, and is now chairman of the community policing board.
After retirement, he purchased two horses that he boards at the Minton Ranch in Wildwood. The first one, Midnight, came from the SPCA.
“He’s been the best horse we could ask for. We got started with horses because our grandson wanted to see horses,” Andy said.
The grandfather and grandson participate in the Stampede parades, and the annual the Great Cariboo Ride, of which Andy’s on the board, that attracts 40 riders from all over to go out riding and camping around ranch areas in the Cariboo for a week.
“Meals and hay are provided,” Andy said.
Andy is also part of the Citizens on Patrol on horses in Williams Lake.
Both sons lived in town — Todd, who worked at the Tribune and the Cariboo Advisor, now has his own publication The Stew. Kevin is an electrical apprentice with Steve Sandrock Electrical.
“We’re fortunate to have both boys here in town,” Linda said.
After more than three decades in Williams Lake the Sullivans have seen some changes.
Every business was a small business, and downtown was always busy when they arrived.
“The downtown was the core,” Andy said.
“We used to go dancing at the Lakeview Hotel before it burned down. It had a big dance floor,” Linda recalled.
The Sullivans said they cannot imagine living anywhere else.
They own a fifth wheel and love camping and travelling through Canada and the U.S. northwest states.
“When I go back to Vancouver Island, if it’s a nice day that’s great, but if it’s rainy, I really notice it now. I love the weather here. Even in the winter, I love the crisp blue days. Usually the sun is out, and I find it hard to believe that first year I was so unhappy here,” Linda said, adding people are friendly and they’ve made very close friends.
“That would make it hard to leave here as well,” she added.