An old Yogi Bera saying, “the future ain’t what it used to be,” was used to describe the feeling in the Nanaimo in the wake of the Western Forest Products shootings, but the laughter outweighed the tears at Saturday’s memorial for Fred McEachern, one of the two men killed April 30th.
From his brothers-in-law remembering him as a “genuine guy” and a man who wasn’t content to be an observer in life but wanted to be a participant, to the life long friend who started his eulogy by cracking a beer McEachern was remembered as someone who was a bit of a joker and had lot of fun, but knew when it was time to be serious.
There were also lots of stories about his love of hockey, golf and fishing.
A coworker described him as having “sawdust in his veins”, a reference to a lifetime in the forestry industry and talked about how he saw work like hockey: dynamic, fast paced, exhilarating and full highs and lows, but something to be tackled with energy and enthusiasm.
McEachern’s children, Paige who had been working at the mill for the past few months, and Tristan also hoisted a beer in their dad’s honour as they spoke of a man who was a coach, friend, fishing buddy and role model.
A table at the memorial held mementos, including McEachern’s WFP hardhat, work gloves, hockey stick, tackle box and various photos from throughout his life.
Many of the speakers, and the McEachern family, were wearing red t-shirt stickers in memory of Michael Lunn, the other man killed in the shooting. His memorial service was held later Saturday afternoon at Generations Church in Nanaimo.
The church was a sea of red, Lunn’s favourite colour, which he wore every day to work.
Coworker and shooting survivor Tony Sudar was able to attend both McEachern’s and Lunn’s memorials;
The other man injured in the shooting, Earl Kelly, sent notes from his hospital bed in Victoria.
Lunn’s daughter Marcy told the standing-room-only crowd, they were there to remember how he lived, not how he left this life.
Lunn was described by family and friends as larger-than-life. He was a man who had a mischievous smile and a booming voice, whose love for his family was bigger than his appetite. He loved to bust a move on the dance floor and share his legendary bear hugs with everyone he knew.
Bruce Tober was friends with Lunn for over 30 years.
The Lunn family is turning his death into an opportunity to help others. Longtime family friend Lynn Jacques says they’re starting the Red Shirt Foundation to help put an end to workplace violence.
The website is still under construction but there’s basic information and a link to donate at www.redshirtfoundation.com