2014 Citizen of the Year Barry Nelson (front left) with his wife Wendy. Back row (l-r): MP Alex Atamanenko

2014 Citizen of the Year Barry Nelson (front left) with his wife Wendy. Back row (l-r): MP Alex Atamanenko

Barry Nelson celebrated as 2014 Citizen of the Year

Nelson’s 2014 Citizen of the Year Barry Nelson was honoured at a banquet at St. Joseph School on Friday evening.



All photos by Tamara Hynd

Nelson’s 2014 Citizen of the Year Barry Nelson was honoured at a banquet at St. Joseph School on Friday evening. Nelson was selected by the Knights of Columbus for his social justice work and transportation advocacy, including founding the Kootenay Carshare Co-op.

Accompanied by his wife Wendy, the couple were led to the head table by piper Kevin Underwood and guards of the Nelson Knights of Columbus Armando Savarin and Vito Tummillo.

Chuck Bennett, group publisher for Black Press, was the emcee for the evening as the Nelson Star is a new co-sponsor of the 51st annual Citizen of the Year.

2014 Citizen of the Year Barry Nelson. Photo by Tamara Hynd

Barry was presented a plaque by Peter Defeo, 2013 citizen of the Year, with a long list of activities and accomplishments that led to the 2014 award.

Barry said the award is very humbling as so many people in the community are deserving.

“It’s truly an honour,” he said. “As volunteers, you do it for the immediate reward and then it’s a surprise that there’s a list somewhere.

“People ask me, ‘How do you get involved in all these things?’ “I was asked,” he said. “You have to be open enough to ask. Virtually none of [these projects] were initiated by me. Without collaboration, the success would be limited. The need is out there.”

Presentations were made by judging committee chair Bruce Morrison, MP Alex Atamanenko and Mayor Deb Kozak.

Several speakers took the opportunity to share their sincere gratitude for Barry and Wendy, telling personal stories with more than a touch of humour.

Brian Deon gave a friendly toast and roast, describing his bluegrass friend as a “can do guy” with “unwavering optimism”.

“It is very hard to discourage Barry,” said Deon. “He manages consistently, simultaneously to see the forest and the trees.”

Deon listed Barry’s many contributions to social justice internationally and local initiatives such as recycling at the hospital, the Kootenay car share program and, more recently, low cost dental care.

“It’s exhausting just to talk about all these things,” exclaimed Deon, adding, “Barry is an exemplary citizen of the world.”

Barry’s son-in-law Stuart Minns gave congratulations on behalf of the family, who are “very proud”. He pointed out the “tireless volunteerism” of a “tireless worker”, who is always involved in family matters.

The Knights of Columbus have been presenting the Citizen of the Year award for over 50 years, recognizing individuals who have made all-round volunteer contributions to the community in recreation, civic service, youth work and/or religious activities.

Recent Citizens of the Year

2013: Peter Defeo

2012: Lois Arnesen

2011: Bruce Halstead

2010: Bill McDonnell