After Julia Reid passed away in 2015, Fred Slater walked into the Shuswap Community Foundation to set up an endowment fund. It wasn’t something they had ever discussed but it was a fitting way to remember her, says Fred.
“She was a very charitable person, particularly to the SPCA. She was a great animal lover, she had cats, dogs, parrots, and fish.”
Julia enjoyed her quiet life in Sicamous. When her husband, Gary Reid, passed away in 2004, Fred, a long-time friend, came from Ontario to help with the arrangements.
“Julia’s father was my next door neighbour, that’s how we met. We became friends when she and her husband came to visit her dad in Ontario,” says Fred.
At the time Fred was retired from the funeral business. He got into the profession in a roundabout way.
“I started out in the banking business. I didn’t like banking. I had a friend who was a funeral director and I gave him a hand when I was available.”
That led to an apprenticeship and eventually he owned his own funeral business. When Fred retired he kept himself busy with odd jobs ranging from house building and carpentry to bartending.
“I was bartending at the local legion. I did a lot of volunteering there. I got involved just because I believed in what it stood for. There were still a lot of WWII vets around and a lot of them needed help.”
When Julia’s father passed away, naturally Fred was there to help. A couple of years later Julia’s husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and he had a special request for Fred.
“He wanted me to help the same as I had helped look after her dad’s arrangements. And I told Gary I was happy to help in any way I could.”
As Fred was spending a lot of time flying back and forth from BC to Ontario he decided he might as well relocate.
“I didn’t really have anything to keep me in Ontario and she had a big vacant basement. So I put my carpentry skills back to work and finished the basement.”
Over time their relationship developed from friendship to a deep, abiding love. They had a lot in common, and more especially, they simply enjoyed each other’s company.
“We spent our summers in Sicamous and we travelled in the winter. We were both animal lovers and we visited a number of zoos. She loved bears and we even went to a bear ranch where the you drive through and the bears run free.”
Fred has many pictures of the adventures they had together showing a fun-loving Julia doing things that she enjoyed. It was during their holiday in Florida in 2015 when Julia passed away in the Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center at the age of 59. Her memory will live on in the hearts of all those who knew and loved her and her name be forever remembered by those who benefit from the Fred and Julia Endowment fund.
Monies from the Fred and Julia Endowment Fund support the Shuswap Branch of the SPCA, the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, and The War Amputations of Canada.