Audrey Erickson has made a home for herself at Heritage Place in Port Alberni. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Audrey Erickson has made a home for herself at Heritage Place in Port Alberni. SUBMITTED PHOTO

VALLEY SENIORS: Audrey Erickson known for her volunteer work

Port Alberni resident has made a home for herself at Heritage Place

BY ORLANDO DELANO

Special to the News

Born in Barnet, B.C. in 1928, Audrey Erickson (nee. Wallace) moved to Port Alberni in 1935 with her family: mother, father, two sisters and one brother.

“I was in grade two at the time we came to this city and my dad had started working at the new Somass Saw Mill that year,” she said.

At 16, she got her first job in a dentist’s office and, at 18, shortly after the end of the Second World War, she married Einar Erickson: a Swedish citizen, who worked as a faller (a trade he pursued all his life).

“Once we got married, we moved to Coombs where we built a house on a three-acre piece of land that my in-laws gave us of the 20 acres of property they owned,” said Erickson. “Then, after five years, and two sons, we decided to come back to Port Alberni, a place I have lived permanently ever since.”

Althoug she is known for her volunteer work in the community, Mrs. Erickson is also known for her friendliness and her inviting approach. For several years she gave her time to assist handicapped children and seniors in the community.

“I volunteered with Hope Porter and later with Kitty Schwartz at Beaufort School, and I also spent time assisting the seniors of Fir Park Village, where I met and worked with Lois Whiteman, one of the coordinators, along with other staff and volunteers,” she explained. “I truly enjoyed working with the seniors there!”

The beauty of the Broken Group Islands, a well-known place that offers natural features and tranquility to visitors and nature lovers, was part of the Ericksons’ enjoyment for years.

“Gibraltar Island was a huge part of mom’s life,” said her son Gord. “Our mom and dad, along with three other families, had a lease on the Island until it was turned into a natural park.”

Although life has been enjoyable for the most part, tragedy has also struck for Mrs. Erickson and family. The most significant loss came about with the death of her oldest son Ray, who was killed at Franklin River Logging Camp in 2000 when he was 52 years of age. This misfortune was followed by the passing of her husband in 2007.

At 90, Mrs. Erickson reflects on her peaceful but enjoyable life in Heritage Place, a seniors assisted living home, where she has been a tenant for over three years.

“This is my home,” she says while showing us her suite, and a beautiful patio area that is surrounded by lovely planters displaying flowers already in bloom. While on this interview, she then goes on to proudly show us beautiful flower arrangements presented to her by her children on Mother’s Day, as well as a bench made by her son-in-law right outside her suite door.

“My life here has been enjoyable,” she said. “My family comes to visit with me on a regular basis, including my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Sometimes we go out for dinner and socialize in the community. By the way, I don’t need to go shopping anymore!

“I also take part in various social activities in the home, which range from bus trips to different places in the community, including the Harbour Quay, my favourite, to musical programs scheduled to celebrate calendar and special events. And all is organized by Deb, the activity coordinator, and carried out by the many volunteers we have.”

Mrs. Erickson is gradually recovering from a fall she suffered outside her suite about a month ago. We wish her a speedy recovery!