Vanderhoof's longest-serving mayor Len Fox remembered as mentor
'He felt that if he came to a smaller town he could make a difference, and he certainly accomplished that'
Len Fox, a former MLA and mayor of Vanderhoof in B.C.'s central Interior, passed away recently and is remembered as an athlete, environmentalist and mentor by the community he served for over 30 years.
"He came here… in the old days of the Cariboo Hockey League and he was given lots of opportunity to play hockey in different areas of the world but he chose Vanderhoof," said current Mayor Gerry Thiessen.
"He felt that if he came to a smaller town he could make a difference, and he certainly accomplished that."
Fox started his lengthy career in civic politics as a school board trustee and later became chairman before going on to serve as mayor for three consecutive terms starting in 1981.
He joined the Reform Party caucus in 1994 representing the Prince George-Omineca region in the provincial legislature. He later returned to Vanderhoof to lead the community for another nine years from 1999 to 2008, making him its longest-serving mayor.
Thiessen said he had Fox on speed dial for his first year as mayor, which he remembers as an anxious time in the middle of the 2008 recession.
"He was there to mentor people… The impact that he had, certainly on young men in our community, will be remembered for a long time," Thiessen told Daybreak North's Carolina De Ryk.
Fighting the pine beetle
Fox was elected when the forests around Vanderhoof were still green, but as years passed he watched his region's beloved pine stands turn grey and die.
During the worst years of the devastating infestation, he led the region's Omineca Beetle Action Coalition.
Seeing the impact of forest fires on the region over the past few years is something that gave Fox "a real sense of sadness," Thiessen said.
"These fires will change communities five, 10, 20 years from now and we did talk about that," said Thiessen.
"He tried to be positive about it and when things were frustrating he stayed away from the conversation."
Thiessen said that the district of Vanderhoof was fortunate to have Fox because found ways to make the area both "viable and vibrant."
With files from Daybreak North