When Art Skipsey walked into the community hall in Qualicum Beach Monday, he was greeted by over 100 well-wishers who had gathered there for a surprise luncheon in his honour.
The occasion was Skipsey’s official retirement from the board of the Qualicum Beach Museum, but his many friends and associates used it as an opportunity to give the former Qualicum Beach mayor a big thank you for all he has done for the community.
An emotional Skipsey was met with a performance by town crier Len Mustard and his wife, Marie, who praised him for his many years of service — in many capacities.
The room then burst into a spirited rendition of, You are My Sunshine.
“That’s Art’s favourite song,” said museum manager Nataja Waddell. “We sang it in honour of him.”
The pot luck luncheon saw both Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek and Coun. Mary Brouilette share the head table with Skipsey, while longtime museum volunteer Gil Gilmour provided the MC honours.
In his remarks, Westbroek told of how Skipsey designed the first mayoral chain of office.
“In the 1980s he and other dignitaries attended a function with Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip,” Westbroek said.
“Art at that time didn’t have a chain of office. Neither, I think, did the mayor of Oak Bay. Prince Philip, who has a wonderful sense of humour, said, ‘I see you only wear your chain of office for special occasions.’”
Skipsey, he said, got the hint and created the town’s chain of office.
Brouilette, who serves as council’s official liaison with the museum and the Qualicum Beach Historical Society, praised Skipsey for his leadership on many fronts, in particular Skipsey’s push to secure funds for a museum expansion — a project that’s still ongoing.
“Art set an example that if you have a dream you have to go after it,” she said. “We’ll get your dream fulfilled. It may take a few years, but we’ll get there.”
A highlight of the event took place when Skipsey called up his four-year-old grandson James to help him cut a special cake which sported a photograph of Skipsey over what many would consider an entirely appropriate moniker: Mr. Qualicum.