With death of Bob Gillespie, community loses long-time leader

Long-time Saanich councillor, advocate for farming dies at 82.

Bob Gillespie last November.

Saanich Coun. Leif Wergeland laughs as he recalls the time his good friend Bob Gillespie filled in for him at the Capital Regional District board table.

Gillespie, known widely for his outspoken nature as a Saanich councillor, was a meeting stand-out that day and his passionate statements and body language were then detailed in news coverage of the meeting. Only the actions weren’t attributed to Gillespie, rather accidentally to Wergeland, whose name tag sat before the councillor in his regular seat among CRD directors.

Gillespie immediately called out Wergeland for benefitting from his charisma. It was a news gaffe that the two delighted in and it still brings a smile to Wergeland’s face in the week following Gillespie’s death on Sept. 25.

“When Bob spoke, he spoke with passion,” Wergeland said. “He had an ability through his personality to work with people of all political stripes and he was respected for that. Even though they didn’t necessarily agree, he was able to work with them. He had his views and some very, very strong opinions at times.”

Gillespie lived his entire life in Saanich, serving on council from 1990 until 2008. He died at 82.

Wergeland first met Gillespie through their time together on council and continued to meet near weekly ever since.

“Over the years we drank a lot of coffee at Tim Hortons and tried to solve some of the world’s problems – talked about family and sports and community involvement,” he said. “What was neat about him was that he was a straight forward uncomplicated person and he’d give his opinion on how how he felt whether he was in the majority or the minority.”

Gillespie was known in many capacities, as the owner of Gillespie Electric, an outspoken councillor and an advocate for local food production. He was instrumental in bringing in the wholesale water rate for farmers, believing that there as no point to protecting farmlands if farmers couldn’t afford to farm them.

“He’ll be fondly remembered by the Saanich community,” said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard. “He had his own brand of politics and policies. He wasn’t afraid to stand by himself sometimes, but he spoke from the heart and always tried to keep a sense of humour.”

Saanich South MLA Lana Popham knew Gillespie best for his work within the agricultural community after having first met him during her days as farmer and a commissioner of the Peninsula Agricultural Commission, on which Gillespie was the representative from Saanich council.

“We really hit it off because he really wanted to see younger people getting into farming,” Popham said. “He was always very supportive and he inspired me because he never seemed to give up.”

Though Gillespie was non-partisan, he backed the politician based on her commitment to farming, she said.

“Even though I’m 43 years old, he would always say, ‘You’re doing a good job, kid,’” Popham said. “He was always at the events that I held and seeing his face in the crowd, seeing him smile and give kind of a reassuring look, it was very sweet and I’m going to miss him a lot.”

“Good ol’ Bob,” Leonard said, will be remembered in many capacities, from his charitable work and determined and sometimes stubborn presence on council, to his history of hijinks as a young boy growing up in Saanich.

“There are different parts to Bob, different stages of his life, that the community will always be fond of,” Leonard added.

Gillespie is survived by his son Doug, daughter Susan Thackeray, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

“Bob was just a great guy to have as a friend,” Wergeland said.

A public celebration of Gillespie’s life is planned for 2 p.m., Oct. 12, at the Church of the Nazarene, 4277 Quadra St. All are welcome. For details contact 250-888-6490.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Two dogs rescued from Colwood house fire

Black Labrador retriever rescued and revived by West Shore crews

UVic partners with harm reduction groups to run a drug checking pilot project

The three-year pilot will allow people to test their drugs for fatal ingredients like fentanyl

Public asked to give feedback on proposed protection measures for southern resident orcas

Measures focus on key threats related to contaminants, lack of prey, noise or physical disturbance

Highway 1 just south of Malahat Drive to see lane expansion

Langford stretch between Leigh Road and Westshore Parkway will see additional lane and median

Province announces more improvements for Highway 14

$85-million project made possible through federal funding support

WATCH: Police call Happy Valley shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident

One person in custody, another fled following crash on Kelly Road

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Most Read