It seems we ranchers and rural people meet too often to celebrate the life of one of ours who has passed on.
Twice this fall, at least this has happened.
When Eric Reay passed the church hall was jam packed with friends and relatives who gathered to remember his commitment to this country which spanned at least six decades.
As a young man he came from Great Britain looking for a “better” life.
He became a Cariboo cowboy and then, after a lot of hard work and saving, he was able to purchase his own place at Meldrum Creek.
He instilled in his children the love of the ranch life.
His own love of the life showed in abundance as he attracted and kept many, many friends in the community.
The most fitting tribute to a person is when people show up in droves at your memorial service. It is as if to say “thanks” for being a friend.
It is the most valuable measure of a person’s worth and personality style for the room to be full.
I am sure I speak for many when I say I enjoyed every conversation with him. He was positive in the face of the adverse time that ranching has endured.
It was always pleasurable to be in his company whether it was at a Cattlemen’s meeting or a social event.
Thank you Eric for the time you spent as a leader in the industry working with your fellow cattlemen to make life better for us all.
Then just last week at the Chilancoh Ranch Hugh Bayliff’s life was celebrated.
His life was shortened by lifelong illness and a recent accident.
The shop at the five generation family ranch was full for the service. Another pillar of industry, Hugh was an innovator and a leader.
Part of his legacy is the Thompson Rivers University Ranching Program.
It was Hugh’s words to those of us gathered at their ranch at the end of several pasture walks one week in early June a few years back that kindled an inspiration.
Hugh said that Cariboo Cattlemen should ask the University to set up an Olds (Alberta) — like agriculture program based in the Cariboo.
He wanted to see soils as the basis of the course and that is a work in progress.
Hugh has been active following in his father’s footsteps, as a leader in the industry.
We are indebted to him. His lovely partner Hellen is now following his footsteps.
Fortunately Hugh had some inspiring learning at a soil and grazing conference when in Alberta.
He was also able to reconnect with former Olds classmates.
Such was his way: live life as fully as you can, open to learning as you go.
Rest now, both of you, Eric and Hugh. We are richer for your contributions to the community.
We must hope others will follow your example. I know I will try.
David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.