Kathy Marshall lost a good friend last week, when longtime Mountie Fred Elder died of cancer following a three-year battle with the disease.
But Leo will be around for awhile, a friendly tail-wagging reminder of her long-time friend. Leo is a little dog, part Yorkshire terrier, maybe rat terrier, who accompanied Fred everywhere, and was his parting gift to Marshall.
“It’s like having part of Fred around all the time. Because he loved that dog. That was his life, really.”
Leo may be small, but he’s not as yappy as other physically challenged dogs like hers often are. Leo gets along well with Marshall’s own dog, a big, bull mastiff.
Elder, 59, died Aug. 25 of bile-duct cancer, after being diagnosed three and a half years ago.
A 35-year veteran of the RCMP, he was serving at the Burnaby detachment but was on sick leave when he officially retired this month, after previously receiving the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in July.
While Leo does his part to keep alive Fred’s memory, the public is being asked to do theirs during this year’s Terry Fox Run, Sept. 16 at Hammond Community Centre. Registration is 8:30 a.m. for one-kilometre, five- and 10-km runs or walks.
Marshall is part of the Fred Elder Team, which wants to raise at least $5,000 in Fred’s name, more if possible.
“If we can get everybody who knew him to either come out and pledge to Team Elder. It’s all going to the Terry Fox Run. It’s all going for cancer research. It’s just support, getting rid of this terrible disease.
“It’s a way of remembering him because he fought so hard for the Terry Fox Run, year after year after year.”
Elder helped out with more than 20 Terry Fox Runs. Marshall said Elder always admired Terry Fox.
Elders’ sister Gail died two years ago of cancer.
“They’ve been touched, pretty much all of us have at some point, by somebody who had it,” Marshall said.
Actually, it was his daughter Katie’s idea to form Team Elder as a way of involving the public, Marshall pointed out.
Elder also was the first resident of Maple Ridge to be awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
MP Randy Kamp presented the medal at July meeting of Maple Ridge council. Elder served as chairman of the Ridge Meadows municipal advisory committee on accessibility issues. He also served on the arts council and the Ridge Meadows Association for Community Living.
“He is a tremendous example of a hard-working Canadian who serves the community with dedication and humility,” Kamp said on his website.
Marshall said Elder was a good cop. “He loved it. He was a great cop, great reputation. He really cared.”
Two years ago, as he prepared to help out with the annual run and 18 months after receiving his own diagnosis, Elder said:
“If everybody follows Terry’s dream and kicks in a little bit, hopefully more research will solve some of these challenging issues.”