Paul Dwillies, best known for his work organizing the Haney’s Farmers Market, died suddenly on Sunday.
Dwillies, 84, had generally enjoyed good health, said his wife Eileen.
He had diabetes, and when he took medication for an eye issue, it lowered his immune system. A common virus he had been carrying was no longer in check, and attacked his brain, causing fatal damage.
They were married for 62 years. Paul had run a business as a commercial illustrator.
The retired couple moved to Maple Ridge from Vancouver to be closer to their two daughters and grandchildren in 2003.
In 2004, they were part of the group that started the farmer’s market and it has grown to become a downtown event in Memorial Peace Park every Saturday during fair weather months.
The Dwillies were vendors who sold bread, and Eileen became the executive director. Paul, also a market coordinator, was a familiar sight there each week. He would do a variety of jobs, hooking up water and power for the vendor stalls, and chatting with the merchants.
They made a lot of friends in their new city through the market, said Eileen.
“We loved it. We were there a total of 15 years,” she said. “The people we met were very like-minded, which helps a lot.”
One of those people was Ineke Boekhorst of the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association, who became a close friend. She said Paul was always helpful and positive.
“He was always looking to help, always looking to make things better. It’s a big loss to the community,” said Boekhorst.
“The market would never have been there without the two of them.”
Eileen said her husband was creative and talented, with a curious mind. He designed and built microscopes and telescopes. He built a model train and re-created the landscapes and villages in the area of Provence, France, where they lived for 13 years.
“We always called him a Renaissance man, because he would do anything from nailing a nail to threading a needle,” said Eileen.
Details about funeral services are pending.