One of the foundations of Maple Ridge has died as a result of surgery complications.
Robert Shantz, 73, lawyer, volunteer, coach and community contributor, died Saturday night after surgery for an aneurism, or swelling of an artery.
The aneurism was discovered just after Christmas. He had been previously scheduled for surgery, but finally went in on Wednesday for the operation as his condition worsened.
“During the aneurism operation and the recovery period, he had multiple strokes and wasn’t able to survive on his own,” said his wife Irena.
“We knew the risk going into it, but it doesn’t certainly make it any easier to make that choice.”
His family, and the community will feel his loss.
“He was a beautiful person. He was my soulmate. He touched so many lives,” Irena said.
“He’s just been in everything. He loved the community.”
Shantz was founding member of the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation, she pointed out, to name just one organization.
He was also a member of the Meadowridge Rotary Club and organized the Rotary Duck Race for the last four years.
Whatever the event, he drew everyone in the same direction.
“He was impossible to say no to. He led by example,” said Kevin Nosworthy who knew Shantz for 14 years.
“He would do it and you just came along for the ride.”
Shantz was also former president of the Ridge Meadows Hospice Society and a past director of the Maple Ridge Community Foundation, a position he held for nine years.
Most recently, he was chair of the security committee with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association.
Last year, Shantz was named Citizen of the Year, by the Maple Ridge Community Foundation.
As a longtime Rotarian, he also received five awards from the Meadowridge Rotary Club, including “Rotarian of the Year.”
In addition to his community, Shantz practised law for 40 years in Maple Ridge, with a long track record as a defence lawyer.
Shantz had already defended dozens of criminal cases when he was appointed to represent child killer Clifford Olson in the 1980s.
Nosworthy will be speaking at Shantz’s funeral on Monday.
“I have spent days, if not months, listening to stories about his life,” said Nosworthy.
The one regret Shantz had was that he never wrote a book about his life, Nosworthy added.
He also said that Shantz would have liked his nickname ‘Poppa Duck’ to endure.
Nosworthy said losing his best friend means he has no one to talk shop with and can no longer call him up to bounce ideas off of.
“I think the community lost huge, huge, huge. We’ve just lost a huge contributor.”
Shantz is also survived by four sons.
Irena said her husband used to carry a poem that he frequently checked and read:
“I would like the world to teach me
to admire others without envy,
Fight injustice without hatred,
Cultivate humility without surrender of my convictions,
Accomplish without vain or glory
And recognize that service to others will be the measure of my worth when the final balance of my life is struck.”