Ernie Day, a long-time Maple Ridge resident, business owner and community leader passed away Saturday, Sept. 10 at the age of 87.
Born in Minitonas, Man., Day grew up on a small farm and moved to the gold mining community of Balmertown, Ont. at 18. There, he worked in the mine, sold insurance, drove a school bus and taxi before getting involved in the travel industry.
After several years managing the local airport, he purchased a local travel agency in 1969 and soon the business began to thrive.
In 1974, Day and his wife, Gail, moved to Maple Ridge. Two years later, he purchased Maple Ridge Travel and eventually opened a second agency – Valley Fair Holidays. He also assisted with the startup of Pitt Meadows Travel.
Day then took an interest in local politics. After nine years as a school trustee, starting in 1984, he won a seat on Maple Ridge council in 1993. His political career was cut short due to heart surgery in 1997, but his community involvement continued for many years, said his son, Robin Day, the eldest of three children.
Ernie Day was active in the Haney Rotary club for 15 years, earning the Paul Harris Fellow award for his service. He also chaired the Heart and Stroke fundraiser, co-ordinated luggage handling for the athletes competing in the B.C. Summer Games and sat on the board responsible for the building of the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society Panorama Centre.
After selling Maple Ridge Travel and retiring in 2004, Day became a volunteer driver for the Canadian Cancer Society, serving Mission and Maple Ridge. He also maintained an active role in his church, participating in many functions and activities.
Day was a devoted, proud father who somehow still managed to find time to spend time with his children, grandchildren and most recently, with his great grandchildren.
“My father never told me and my siblings how to act when we grew up. He showed us, providing the best possible example. His integrity, quick wit and strength in the face of adversity is a legacy we could all learn from,” said Robin Day.
“His passing will be felt by not only his loving family, but by the entire Maple Ridge community.”
Ernie Day leaves behind Gail, his wife of 61 years and who still lives in Maple Ridge, as well as another son, Kevin, and daughter, Kristel, as well as eight grandchildren. He was predeceased by an infant son, Scott (1969), and another son, Brian (1975).