A man who made his mark on the Royal City in a myriad of ways has passed away.
Bill Radbourne, who was New Westminster’s 2010 Citizen of the Year, died Oct. 16 at Royal Columbian Hospital. After developing a serious lung infection in July, he was admitted to hospital in September.
“All of us on council were deeply shocked and saddened by the news of Bill’s passing. Not only did Bill dedicate his life as a firefighter in the City of New Westminster, but he was such a strong community volunteer who really gave back in every way that he could to his city,” said Mayor Jonathan Cote. “I think this loss will definitely be felt throughout the community.”
The youngest of eight children, Radbourne was born and raised in Sapperton. When he was a teenager, he received a service award at school for his volunteer efforts, which included keeping score for the school’s hockey team and managing the band.
After graduating from Lester Pearson High School, Radbourne started working in the City of New Westminster’s board of works department, first putting in sidewalks in the Massey Heights neighbourhood and then working on the garbage trucks.
“I figured if got on the trucks, I could get on with the fire department,” he told the Record in 2010. “I guess it worked.”
Radbourne landed a job with the New Westminster Fire Department, where he worked for more than 38 years, retiring as an assistant chief in 2003. While working with the fire department, Radbourne started the department’s first Boot Drive and pub crawl for muscular dystrophy.
Throughout his life, Radbourne was involved with a variety of community organizations. His roles included being a member of the Remembrance Day committee, an adjutant with the Ancient and Honourable Hyack Battery for two decades, 2012 president of the Hyack Festival Association and a volunteer with the group for 30 years, a founding member and president of the Massey Victory Heights Residents’ Association, a puppy raiser with B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs, and director and co-founder with wife Lynn of the New Westminster Youth Ambassador Society.
“He was pretty active in almost everything,” said Coun. Chuck Puchmayr. “He was a pretty giving character.”
Radbourne, a past president of the Sapperton Fish and Game Club, loved to hunt and fish at the couple’s trailer in Hedley, B.C.
“If somebody needs help, you just do it,” he told the Record when named Citizen of the Year.
A memorial will be held on Friday, Nov. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Firefighters Club at Metrotown, 6515 Bonsor Ave. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs.