Outgoing Chilliwack Museum Director Ron Denman isn’t crazy about being in the spotlight.
“He’s a guy in the back who doesn’t like to be pulled out to the front,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz.
But she put him there anyway at the last council meeting, as a way of honouring his achievements now that he’s retiring after 28 years.
The mayor said a few words and presented him with a token of appreciation from council and the City of Chilliwack.
Denman leaves an enviable legacy from his time at the helm of the museum. He obtained Class B museum status, and earned awards for exhibits, like Brewer’s Gold and a Diamond Jubilee medal for his community service.
When he started in 1985, the museum was in Evergreen Hall. He oversaw the move and renovation of the former City Hall, the current Chilliwack Museum location.
He’s networked and forged good relationships with many community groups, from The Community Arts Council, and local First Nations, and more. Major renovations at the Archives were completed in 2011.
On his watch, the Museum presented more than 100 exhibits, and 50,000 children came for educational programs from staff who made history come alive.
“Ron is generous and humble, he would say everything is a group effort,” said the Mayor in council chambers. “As much as there is some truth to that, it was his strong leadership that got them there.”
Denman performed the last official function, handing out copies of the final product of a book project on Sardis, and later introducing his replacement, Deborah Hudson.
“What I have today is that final product of the book, Memories of Sardis, and I have one for each of you,” Denman told council.
The museum work was deeply satisfying, like the Piper Richardson statue, or editing The Chilliwack Story.
“It sustained me over 28 years. I never got bored and there was always something else to do.
“I enjoyed the freedom to decide what the projects would be, and I was privileged to mould the organization and move it forward into the 21st century.”
It was a tender moment in council chambers.
“It’s hard to thank someone for 28 years,” said Gaetz. “We know you have put your heart and soul into this work, and you always brought knowledge and wisdom and calmness to the process. So we thank you.”