Friends, neighbours and fellow volunteers gathered at the Lilllooet Legion May 26 to say “Thank you and Goodbye” to two of Lillooet’s most dedicated volunteers, Judy and Scott Bodaly.
The afternoon celebration included laughter, tears and affectionate reminiscences.
The Bodalys will be moving to Kimberley in the Kootenay Rockies to be closer to their daughters Alicia and Kristal and grandchildren.
“This is a very special occasion to recognize the contributions of an outstanding couple,” said emcee Lynn Albertson.
While putting together a scrapbook tribute to the Bodalys, Albertson said she learned of all the organizations where they were active volunteers.
The list includes the Banner Committee; Beautification Committee; BCAA Playground Committee; Emergency Social Services; Girl Guides; Lillooet Food Matters; Lillooet Library, including Books for Babies, home delivery to patrons who couldn’t make it to the library and Judy’s service on the Lillooet Library Board; the Lions Club; Lillooet Music Society; Lillooet Naturalist Society, Pickleball; the Lillooet Quilters Guild; the Lillooet Spinners and Weavers; and SplitRock Environmental
The celebration began with Mayor Marg Lampman recalling how, back in 1996, she first began to volunteer with the Bodalys on the Beautification Committee.
“Over the years, we’ve had a core group of ladies – and husbands, you know who you are - who have come together every spring and fall to work on the Main Street. We wouldn’t be able to do that if we didn’t have someone like Judy to send out emails to remind all of us to be at a certain place at a certain time on a certain day and we’re going to do this kind of work…Thank you, Judy, for keeping us on the straight and narrow.”
Presenting the Bodalys with a gift of wine and District of Lillooet ‘bling,’ Mayor Lampman added, “We all know you have to go where your heart pulls you and this is the case with Scott and Judy. We want to let them know how much they’re appreciated and how much they’re respected. Thank you to the two of you.”
Speaking on behalf of the Banner Committee, Ale Waterhouse-Hayward recalled how Judy Bodaly calmly came up with a solution to a vexing problem with the banner stitching, and how Scott helped with the grommets and banners installation last year.
“You’ve helped out with such good humour and I thank you both for applying your talent and your skills and helping us get this project done,” said Waterhouse-Hayward.
Eleanor Wright from Lillooet Food Matters said the Bodalys have always been able to make others feel special, and recalled how Scott volunteered his carpentry skills to make a wooden box for displaying seeds at venues such as Seedy Saturday and the Farmers Market.
Lillooet Lions Club president Jim Piderman quoted the lyrics from a Joni Mitchell song – “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” – as an example of how much Lillooet is going to miss the couple. He said one of his most vivid memories of Scott was of him measuring the fish with his bare hands on cold winter days at the Lions Ice Fishing Derby.
Lillooet Naturalist Society President Vivian Birch-Jones and Society Director Greg Smith paid tribute to the Bodalys’ longtime involvement with the organization, including the osprey webcam at the Old Bridge; organizing two provincial B.C. Nature meetings and two Naturalist camps in Lillooet; and Scott Bodaly lending his master carpentry skills to building signage for local trails and constructing bluebird boxes, bat houses and, most recently, a “bat palace.”
Kim North from Splitrock Environmental said the Bodalys were involved “right from the beginning” in Splitrock’s restoration of natural habitat in this area and have assisted over the years with the Walking With the Smolts and Salmon in the Canyon events.
The Lillooet Library’s Toby Mueller promised she would be quick “because I don’t want to embarrass you guys.” She then noted that one of the hallmarks of the Bodalys’ service to the community has been a “really humble generosity and no ego. There’s a contradiction there because you both are incredible artists and you take enormous pride in everything you do. You are super-careful but you’re not judgmental and you do things because they are fun and because you want to.
“Everything feels like a real gift and not an exchange,” said Mueller as the crowd broke into a round of spontaneous applause.
She said the couple had done everything from serving in executive positions – Judy as a director on the library board, Scott as president of the Lions Club – to “dressing up as wild forest creatures for Walking With the Smolts. They’ll do anything that needs to be done!”
On behalf of Lillooet Music, Lynn Albertson thanked the Bodalys, along with Lori and Greg Smith, for volunteering as set designers for Lillooet Music concerts. “Our performers always remarked on the work involved in preparing a stage for them. I’m wondering who is now going to be the curtain hanger and the ladder climber?”
Longtime friend Lori Smith, whose friendship goes back to high school days in the Coquitlam area, recalled the early days of the Beautification Committee.
She called Judy one of the few remaining originals from the committee and “our fearless leader” of the ‘Guerilla Gardeners.’ Smith added that behind every great woman is a great man “and that would be Scott. He has helped us out by planting trees – sometimes over and over again.”
She added, “They are leaving behind huge shoes to fill.”
John Willey looked back to the Bodalys’ earliest days as volunteers in Lillooet in the 1980s with the Miyazaki Heritage House Society, where they volunteered as gardeners.
“The people who make this town are our volunteers,” commented Willey. “They’re who we are. Scott and Judy are there, front and centre, helping. They are the epitome of that.”
Pamela Vilac from Emergency Social Services asked, “How many couples can you say that both of them helped in so many different ways? It’s been a pleasure to work with you and what a joy to have you here.”
After receiving a standing ovation, an “overwhelmed” Scott and Judy Bodaly cut a special cake provided by the Lillooet Naturalist Society and baked by Jude Manahan.
“Thank you so much. We’re going to miss all of you,” said Judy.