Last week when I came into the office, I was informed that one of the people in Prince Rupert I truly looked up to was no longer with us.
When I was told that Odd Eidsvik had passed away, it hit me a lot harder than I let on.
When I first arrived in Prince Rupert a little more than nine years ago, I was essentially a stranger in a strange land. Yes, I did grow up in Kitimat, but Prince Rupert and Kitimat are not as close socially as they are geographically.
One of the ways it was recommended I become familiar with the community was by joining Rotary — in this case, the Hecate Strait Rotary Club. I’ll admit, while walking into the upper loft of the Coast Hotel with my scraggly T-shirt, jeans and hiking boots, I stuck out like a sore thumb.
Regardless of my age, appearance or anything that may have preceeded me as the new editor of a new newspaper in town, Odd walked right up to me and introduced himself. Of course, not long after the introduction came a joke that had us both laughing. I can’t remember what the joke was, I just remember it set the stage for what I would consider a friendship that lasted almost a decade. From that point on, whenever I came across Odd in the streets or in the confines of the Rotary meeting, he was always smiling, joking around or trying to “scare me” with a friendly pat on the back. Many are the times he “accidentally” bumped into me because he “didn’t see me there”.
His personality and ongoing kindness alone made him one-of-a-kind, but I was absolutely inspired by what he and his wife Nancy contributed to both the local and global community. Odd was a multi-time Paul Harris Fellow for his dedication to the work of Rotary and improving the quality of life for less fortunate around the world.
Seeing his dedication inspired both my wife and I to be not only better Rotarians, but better people in general. If we can accomplish half of what Odd did, it will be a successful life.
I won’t be able to attend the celebration of life, but on June 26 I will pause to reflect on the impact Odd Eidsvik had on me. The world could certainly use a lot more people like him.