By David F. Rooney
After 27 years as “the human face of the Community Centre,” Heather Duchman is finally pulling the pin and everyone who knows and likes her is invited to help her celebrate on Friday.
Staff at the centre have organized an Open House that runs from 10 am until 4 pm on Friday, February 25, with a special presentation, anecdotes and more beginning at 2 pm.
“The high point for me has always been the special events we organized,” she said in an interview. “One of events that really stands out for was Music 91. I was on the organizing committee and we were offered Tammy Wynette. That was great but Freddy Beruschi came back and said: ‘We can do better. I think we can get Brian Adams.’ At which point, I piped up and asked, ‘Who’s Brian Adams?’
“Well, I sure found out in a hurry. We had 11,000 people come to that concert!”
For more than two decades Heather has been the go-to gal at the Community Centre. She knows just about everybody in town (And why not? She comes from a pioneering family that traces its local roots back to 1885.) and if anything needed organizing, whether it was the Kokanee Glacier Challenge Softball Tournament or the annual Canada Day Parade she knew who to call and what to set up.
“I have always loved organizing things watching them unfold,” she said.
She may be Ms Organization, but one of the nicest things about Heather is her sunny disposition. You could be having an absolutely terrible day and after a few minutes with her you’re bound to be affected by her infectious smile and and her upbeat, bubbly take on life.
“She’s the human face of the Community Centre,” says colleague Suzanne Grieve. “Everyone who comes here meets her and gets to know her. How can you not like Heather?”
Alan Chell, one of her former bosses, said she “has been a really, really big part of our community. Her retirement is a loss.”
Heather doesn’t think she’s necessarily someone special.
“People don’t come here to complain,” she said. “They come in here with a good attitude and, sure, we get the odd complaint but for the most part they want to enjoy themselves.”
Some people on the verge of retirement wonder what they’ll do in retirement; not Heather.
“I’m going to play golf — a lot of golf,” she said. “And ski. It’s gonna be my time. It’s about me, now.”
Oh, she’ll still be involved in community life. She doesn’t know else she’ll do but after taking some time off for herself she plans to get involved in other groups and activities. But she’ll have to watch that, Chell said.
“I’m sure she’ll be approached by a lot of different groups and asked to do this and do that,” he cautioned. “Knowing Heather she might over-commit herself. I know I did.”
Well, Heather, you will be deeply missed. You really will, but if anyone has earned a happy retirement, you have.