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Posted: August 29, 2012

Four of Fernie’s finest presented with Diamond Jubilee Medals

Please see photo presentation below

Four City of Fernie residents were honoured for their contributions to their community August 22 when Columbia-Kootenay MP David Wilks presented Fred Gietz, Frank Lento, Mary Menduk and Heiko Socher with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals.

A formal celebration, including the presentation of Canadian flags to seven community organizations recognized for their hard and consistent work, was conducted by emcee Michael Delich and co-hosted by Wilks and Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano, before the four medal winners were honoured.

Before Wilks presented the medals, the recipients’ ‘citation’ was read to the audience.

Bernie Pulsifer outlined to the crowd gathered on the lawn at Government House Fred Gietz’s medal citation.

“A Fernie educator, Fred is a respected high school science teacher. His passion for science has inspired and guided many students to become engineers, trades people, geologists and scientists. Fred founded the Fernie Judo Club and or 25 years, he has been the head coach and organizer of the Fernie Judo Club, instructing hundreds of youth. Each consecutive year, Fred has organized hosted the Fernie Judo Tournament, one of the longest running, consecutive tournaments in British Columbia. Fred was also a founding member of the Fernie Mountain Bike Club. This club has constructed many trails and has help to establish Fernie as a preeminent mountain biking destination in Western Canada,” he said, adding, “With his wife Kim, they raised two sons in Fernie and both contributed to the education and youth of Fernie.”

City of Fernie councillor Phil Iddon read Frank Lento’s medal citation.

“Frank Lento is a Fernie native son. Frank was raised in Fernie and became an educator in the Fernie and district schools. He was active as a coach for his school teams in the minor hockey programs,” he said. “Frank was a leader in the local hockey programs, the Provincial Hockey Association and as the Presidency of Hockey Canada. As Chief-de-Mission for Canada’s Olympic Team in 1998, Frank was the sporting leader during the Nagano winter Olympics.  His contributions and efforts were recognized in his induction into the British Columbia Hockey of Fame in 2011.

“Frank now remains active on the local School Board and helping to built school playgrounds in Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford for the health and wellness of all youth and citizens in our communities,” Iddon concluded.

Active Fernie arts community member Keith Liggett read Mary Menduk’s medal citation.

“Mary was born, raised, and educated in Fernie and following teacher training, chose to teach in the local schools. Along with her husband “Tippy,” they operated the successful Fernie Quality Bakery on Main Street in Fernie,” he said.

“Mary is a leader in the visual and literary arts community in Fernie. She was a pioneer of water colors typical of Fernie scenery and fisheries. She was the inspiration for the next generations of artists in the Fernie arts community. Mary is an accomplished writer and poet in the literary arts. Mary is an advocate of healthy, balanced communities and remains actively engaged in her home town,” Liggett explained.

And Gordon Leffler was tasked with the honour of reading Heiko Socher’s citation.

“Heiko Socher is forester, businessman and philanthropist. Following a career with the local forest company, Crowsnest Industries, Heiko in 1972 proceeded to grow a ski hill into Fernie Snow Valley, a premier western Canadian ski destination. For 25 years, he created ski runs, built chair lifts and expanded the business to diversify and grow the tourism and recreational sector of the Fernie economy.

“Heiko and his wife Linda were compassionate philanthropists. They donated their own funds to complete the Fernie Chamber of Commerce Building and other Fernie endeavours. In 1997, a young Fernie ski racer lacked the financial resources to pursue her dreams of representing Canada in ski racing. The Sochers donated funds that enabled Emily Brydon to make the Canadian Ski Team and to compete for Canada in three winter Olympics,” he stated.

“At age 82, Heiko remains active creating iconic mountain hiking trails and developing signature business projects in Fernie. In 2012, Heiko was inducted into the Fernie Ski Wall of Fame,” Leffler concluded.

Giuliano concluded the ceremony by stating, “Thank you all for your efforts and what you’ve helped Fernie grow to.”

The colourful ceremony, blessed with crisp sunshine and lush dog days of summer light, also featured the introduction of the ringing of bells by Chalice Walker, a former House of Commons page, as well as Oh Canada and God Save the Queen, sung by Emma Fyfe, a Grade 6 student.

Sisters Emma and Cameron Morgan served as flag and medal bearers.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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