A Chilliwack man got quite the birthday surprise when he stepped outside his home on Saturday.
There in Jim Rissling’s driveway were bright signs standing alongside family members and friends all with warm greetings for him on his 80th birthday.
“I was completely surprised, absolutely completely surprised. I was very thankful for everybody who came out,” he said on Jan. 2.
He thought he was heading outside to say a quick hello to some family members. The story was they were in town to pick up a puppy and wanted to stop by to wish him a happy birthday while in Chilliwack.
The puppy part of the story wasn’t true, but those family members were there for his physically-distanced birthday on Jan. 2, along with many other people who took part in the birthday parade of cars.
Jim got many birthday cards, along with “an astronomical” amount of sweet things like homemade cinnamon buns, chocolates and homemade pies, said daughter Karen Rissling who helped organize the whole thing.
“He’s going to have sweets for a month,” she said.
He also got his favourite homemade chocolate cherry cake from his sister.
Coincidentally, his sister Shirley Switzer shares the same birthday as Jim, but they’re not twins. She turned 84 on Saturday, Jan. 2.
“He has been very involved in the community and a lot of people know and love him,” daughter Karen said.
Jim was a conservation officer in Chilliwack for 35 years and retired in 1998. In 1995, he was named Conservation Officer of the Year by the Society of B.C. Conservation Officers which made headlines in the July 5, 1995 issue of The Chilliwack Progress.
He’s also a volunteer with the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society and has been tagging sturgeon for more than 20 years. He also helps out with the society’s annual fundraiser auction.
Additionally, for more than 40 years Jim has been very involved with Chilliwack Alliance Church, and is an “incredibly talented wood carver,” Karen said. He mostly hand carves water fowl, shore birds, song birds and salmon.
Jim also enjoys playing tennis and, more recently picked up the sport pickleball.