Carol Tichelman.

Carol Tichelman: Commitment to community service

Carol Tichelman was blessed with wonderful parents. As young people, they had their share of tragedy and heartache but the sum total of their experiences allowed them to grow into kind, courageous, determined, successful people. These were the attributes that they passed on to their children, something that Carol is thankful for.

Her mother knew tragedy well. After enduring a series of trials, she resolved that what she needed was to get away from it all, at least for a time. She decided, along with her best friend, to head to England for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and following that magical moment, they would remain in Europe for a year, travelling and discovering the beauty that it had to offer. Then, as with any good fairy tale, one week before heading back to Canada, she met her prince one block from the Eiffel Tower in Paris. “Dad was a squadron commander in the Royal Dutch Air Force. They wrote to each other for a year, then she went back and they were married. They had agreed to raise their children in Canada but as it turned out, mom got pregnant right away and dad couldn’t leave at that moment because he hadn’t finished his commission with the air force,” she explained. He made the decision to go AWOL (absent without leave).

Her father was pardoned for having gone AWOL due to his circumstances and the couple left for Canada. At that same time, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) was looking for fighter pilots. “He couldn’t be a fighter pilot without being a captain but he couldn’t be a captain without being a Canadian citizen so the military expedited his citizenship application and he became a member of the force.”

Carol enjoyed her childhood immensely. She was a good student and thoroughly enjoyed school. She was involved in the debating club and did a lot of volunteering including Candy Striping at St. Paul’s Hospital. “I had my eyes set on becoming a clinical pharmacist. I did go to UBC but three years into it, they changed the role of a pharmacist where they could only dispense medication. They weren’t allowed to provide advice and that was what really interested me. That’s changed now but it’s too late for me,” she laughed.

She decided to take a year off from school and, left to discover Europe. Eight months later, she returned and had every intention of going back to school but then a sorority sister got her a job at the Kerrisdale branch of Canada Trust. Six months later, she was elevated to the position of assistant manager and remained with the company for the next 15 years. “The company had a really cool culture and still does. I held a variety of jobs with them including travelling all through Western Canada for two years doing internal audits,” she said.

Like her parents, Carol has always enjoyed the adventure and challenge of trying new things. So, when the company offered her the position of branch manager in Prince George, she accepted. This was just after the merge between TD and Canada Trust and BC’s second largest branch was having some merging pains. Carol was the right woman for the job. She enjoyed her time in Prince George. She made many friends and became heavily involved in what she describes as a fun and vibrant community.

Through her positions with Canada Trust, she had become a good friend of the late Warren Reid who was the branch manager in Chilliwack at that time. One day, the two were at a conference and got into a discussion about what they enjoyed most about their job. They both agreed that it was financial planning and resolved to leave Canada Trust to start their own business.

The day that Carol made that decision, her mom and dad were both diagnosed with cancer. “They lived on the coast and I had to be nearer to them so that I was better able to help them. My decision was really a blessing in disguise,” she admitted. Her parents eventually succumbed to the disease but Carol treasures the time that she devoted to them.

Aside from enjoying a variety of pastimes and volunteer responsibilities, Carol is passionate about her 18-year involvement in Rotary. She was President of the Chilliwack Rotary Club in 2005-2006 and is currently Assistant Governor for District 50/50, amongst many other commitments. In October 2009, she travelled to Ethiopia and Uganda to take part in National Polio Immunization Day which is part of a Rotary initiative to eradicate polio worldwide. “My father was a victim of post polio syndrome so this was near and dear to my heart,” she said. She went back last year and says that Ethiopia stole her heart but Uganda reached her soul. She is looking to return once again, recognizing that she was called by God to do this work.

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