A man, who many dubbed a community hero, passed away this weekend and family and friends are now being asked to help celebrate his life at the upcoming Terry Fox Run.
RCMP Cpl. Fred (Alfred Daniel) Elder, who was recognized late last month for all he’s done as an officer and community volunteer, lost his battle with cancer on Saturday morning at the McKenney Creek hospice in Maple Ridge.
While his two daughters are only planning a private funeral service for family and close friends, they’re inviting anyone else who wishes to celebrate their father’s life to join them at the Terry Fox Run on Sept. 16.
People can walk or run at the cancer fundraiser, just come out to cheer on the Fred Elder team, or – if they can’t make it – make a donation in Elder’s name, explained his younger daughter Katie. “If you’re so inclined, you can come out and join us.”
Registration starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Hammond Stadium.
“That was something very meaningful to him, and that would be a nice way for people to express their feelings for Dad,” said his older daughter Sarah. “And I know that was very important to him: friends, family and his community.”
Elder, 59, was recently recognized for his 35 years of service to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. And a few weeks later he was honoured with the community’s first Queen Elizabeth’s 60th anniversary commemorative medal for his work as a community volunteer with groups such as the arts council, Ridge Meadows Association for Community Living, and local equestrian efforts.
He was always there to lend a hand to any group and charity in need through the year, said his long-time friend Kathy Marshall, who pointed out that his leadership efforts in the local Terry Fox Run during the past three years were indicative of his community spirit.
And, Marshall said, it was a cause dear to his heart even before he began his own battle with cancer.
In January 2009, Elder was diagnosed with a rare form of bile duct cancer and given 30 to 90 days to live.
Research and treatment advancements made possible through the Terry Fox Foundation “bought us more time with him, that’s for sure,” said Katie, noting their father had a chance to tell him he was “content” and incredibly “proud” of his girls.
“He truly was a good guy who cared on every level,” said Supt. Dave Walsh, the officer currently in charge of Ridge Meadows RCMP and who served with Elder for years.
“In any profession you will find a wide variety of people and personalities. Some have a different focus than others. Anyone who met Fred knew right away that he was one of the good guys. He genuinely cared about people and community,” Walsh said.
He recounted working the Pemberton Music Festival with Elder, and how he stepped up to provide food and water for the perimeter staff who had been forgotten by concert organizers.
“Some might say a small thing but I think it speaks to Fred’s concern for his fellow man/women… Fred will be missed on earth but welcome in heaven,” Walsh said.
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin has known Elder for decades.
“Here is a gentleman that loved his community deeply and gave of his time, talents, expertise and passion unselfishly in any place there was a need,” Daykin said.
“Fred’s efforts were not about the spotlight or getting credit… they were about getting the job done or meeting a need he saw in the community.”
He said it a privilege to have known Elder and to have been count as a friend.
“His passing is a loss to us all who were touched by him,” Daykin added. “I want to express to Fred’s family Maple Ridge’s deepest appreciation from sharing their dad with us as a community. Fred Elder. Your dad has left a legacy that you can be proud of.”
Elder’s daughter Katie, who lives in Toronto, and Sarah, who lives in Victoria, were able to spend a lot of time with their father prior to his passing, and expressed gratitude to everyone who was so supportive.
“We’d like to especially say thanks to the B.C. Cancer Agency, Dr. Winston, and Dr. Deklerk, and the nurses and volunteers at the hospice,” Katie noted.
Other friends and fans of Fred Elder are encouraged to share their sentiments about the man and his contributions on The TIMES Facebook, and the news staff will endeavour to compile those for the Sept. 16 run.