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Roy Ronaghan, we will miss you

Reckonings column by Della Mallete, Jan. 13 Grand Forks Gazette.
Roy Ronaghan was pictured on a sunny day in 2009 with then CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill.

In my last column, I introduced the staff of the Grand Forks Gazette. You may have noticed there aren’t many of us, and in terms of the editorial department in particular, you’d be right to assume that we value our contributors. They deserve their whole column!

Firstly, thank you to our readers for photos of their beloved pets for my personal favourite feature, Pet of the Week.

Each week we rely on members of the community to help us identify photos. For example, we might take several photos at a school event and instead of stopping to get identificaiton for every photo, we’ll email photos to the school secretaries the next day. We might take a photo at the curling rink or arena, and it’s wonderful to have the support of the organizations’ members to help us with information. Those are just a few examples of the many groups and individuals who assist us each week with photos.

We can’t cover every event so it’s extremely valuable when someone from that event or host organization writes an article—for example, we didn’t have the time to write an article about the upcoming 4H registration night but 4H parent Erin Perkins was kind enough to submit an article. In the very busy time leading up to Christmas, we didn’t get to every photo opporutnity and were grateful to have photos emailed to us.

Letters offer varying points of view and stimulate discusison. Keep them coming.

We have a submission this week from members of the former deer committee, and this type of contribution speaks to expertise. Sometimes it makes sense to let those who know better, speak to the issue. That’s exactly why we also feature columns written by contributors.

Neither Craig nor I are going to try to explain the status and concerns of the Kettle River—certainly not when Graham Watt can do it so much better in his Kettle River Q&A column. We’re not going to explain the happenings of the recreation department when Lilly and Kim are willing to write an article that features the programming that the department wants to highlight each particular week.

Thanks to Deb, who brings us the news from the Boundary Community Food Bank in her Hunger Matters column; to Cari of the Grand Forks and District Public Library for Check It Out; to Diana and members of the Phoenix Foundation in their new Million$ + Change column; to Natasha for Simply Nourishing. Milton Orris, school district trustees, Richard Cannings, the RCMP, BFISS staff… I know I’m forgetting people and I apologize in advance.

But I’ve saved a very hard acknowledgement until last. Our most prolific contributor was Roy Ronaghan was our opinion columnist for years and he passed away Jan. 2.

About 10 years ago, Roy started spending time in our office. He and editor Jason Harshenin enjoyed good conversation about many issues, particularly environmental and social ones, and at that time Roy began writing an opinion column entitled One Issue at a Time. We gave him a desk and a computer and he didn’t mind that the desk was the smallest in the office and the computer the oldest.

He didn’t charge us for his columns, and we never paid him even a token monetary honourarium. We invited to all our events and social gatherings and he simply became one of our family.

His death has reverberated through the community. Whether you agreed or disagreed with his opinions, he was well known. Les Johnson of GFTV lamented publicly at Monday night’s city council meeting, for those who didn’t know, that Roy had passed away—but he’d be watching!

Councillor Colleen Ross said in her report: “Roy was an inspiration to me, and many people in our community. I will miss his challenging and informative editorials in the local paper, as well as his kindness, dedication and encoruagement to continue to press for social and environmental justice in all that we do.”

From Graham Watt: “In the few years I got to know Roy I really grew to respect his thoughtful, provocative essays and came to admire his fearless and sometimes blunt prose. He didn’t shy from directing pointed questions at those of us with public responsibilities, and he leaves a legacy of informative and meticulously researched commentaries on the most important environmental and social issues of the day.”

Roy, we will miss you.


Della Mallette

About the Author: Della Mallette

A long-time resident of Grand Forks. After graduating from high school, I left the Sunshine Valley for Langara College in Vancouver, but big city life didn't suit me.
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