December 04, 2015 - 6:30 PM
KELOWNA - Kelowna’s current mayor Colin Basran and former mayor Walter Gray joined many others in praising former premier Bill Bennett, who died in Kelowna from complications of Alzheimers disease.
Bennett had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for several years and died Thursday, Dec. 3.
“I knew him all my life. He was absolutely my hero and my political inspiration in terms of community service. He was great for this province, he was a wonderful guy with a great sense of humour,” former Mayor Walter Gray said, on the phone from Arizona.
Gray said he last saw the former premier less than a year ago and was saddened by the toll Alzheimers had taken on him.
“Alzheimers is a cruel disease, it is so terrible to watch the person fade away, and in this case in particular,” Gray added. "He was one of the sharpest, quickest people I’ve ever met. He was alway bang, bang right on with humour or a response, it was always rapid fire.”
Gray said, as a young man, the former premier didn’t think he would ever enter politics.
“Of course he did and I think most people would agree they were glad he did," he says.
Current Mayor Colin Basran never met Bennett but hailed him as a champion of free enterprise.
“That spirit is still prevalent in our community as the result of the work he and his family did so many years ago,” Basran said.
He said Kelowna’s recent naming as one of the best places in Canada to start a business bolsters that legacy.
“We hope to build on that as we move the city forward," Basran added.
He described Bennett’s death as a “huge loss” for the community and the province and offered his condolences to the former premier’s family.
The City of Kelowna is has half-masted flags at city facilities and parks to mark the Bennett's death.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015