Some people are born in Port Alberni and call it home, while others come here from elsewhere and make the Valley their home.
Port Alberni resident Gerry Fagan, 73, moved to Port Alberni from Victoria with his wife Linda in his early 20’s for a work opportunity.
The couple and their three children have lived here since.
“Port Alberni is home now and we’ll never move back to Victoria,” the good-natured Fagan said. “We love it—we’ll grow old and die here.”
Fagan was born in Victoria and raised in Saanich before his parents moved him and his brothers to James Bay when Gerry was 14.
He attended St. Louis College—a private Catholic school run by the Christian Brothers of Ireland—from Grades 3 through 8.
Fagan enjoyed history because it looked back at life from an earlier time, as well as gave a glimpse at different parts of the world.
There were two teachers who stood in contrast to one another, and both left an impression.
Brother Otterson was a tough nut who was quick to physically punish for school infractions.
“He’d bend a kid over and make him place his head under the blackboard then hit him and make him jump up,” Fagan said.
“He stood out for all the wrong reasons.”
Brother Neary was a kindly teacher and basketball coach who left a lasting impression on the young Fagan.
“He was fun, and was a really good guy; I still remember him,” Fagan said.
St. Louis was an all-boys school, so when Fagan turned 14 he “hung around Saint Anne’s Academy down the Road,” he said. “That’s where all the girls were.”
The Roy Rogers and Babe Ruth fan wanted to be a Mountie while growing up, but didn’t pursue the dream after graduating from high school.
Instead, Fagan worked for the Shop Easy food chain for six years in Victoria.
In 1963 he moved to Port Alberni and worked for the Shop Easy store here for 14 years.
He left Shop Easy and took a job with Westin Bakery where he stayed until retiring in 1998.
Fagan always wanted to try golf but never had the money or the time to get out in the links.
He spent time at the game, though, as his children grew up, and devoted more time to it after he retired.
“Twenty-five years later I’m still playing,” he said.
The game gives Fagan a chance to be active, but fellowship is what keeps him at it.
“I’ve met some great folks and made some good friends, and golf is really secondary to that,” he said.
Fagan has some simple advice for anyone who plays golf: “Have fun and enjoy the game.
“Life is too short to worry about how good you are.”
Fagan watches John Wayne movies and Wizard of Oz whenever he gets the chance.
And he wrote a book in 1999 called Life and Times: Memories of the 20th Century – a narrative about the lives of residents at Fir Park and Echo Villages, where he served as a volunteer.
“It’s about who people were and where they came from before they came to Port Alberni,” Fagan said.