A debt of thanks

Thanksgiving weekend is a time to reflect on the past year and give thanks for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon us, and the challenges we have faced (whether we asked for them or not).

Thanksgiving weekend is a time to reflect on the past year and give thanks for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon us, and the challenges we have faced (whether we asked for them or not).

It’s a time when families gather close and deepen their bonds.

It should also be a time to consider the people who have enhanced our lives and helped make Central Alberta such a great place to live. What follows is a short start on a long list of Central Alberta’s most vital human resources.

• Lyn Radford is a stellar Red Deerian. When any local organization needs a big community project done, the first instinct is to call Radford.

Amazingly, despite her multiple family and community commitments, she often manages to say yes.

Then she taps into her long list of contacts to share the load.

Radford’s range of interests is broad and deep, with a strong tilt to health and wellness.

She also helped create the Women of Excellence Awards. It’s a title that absolutely describes Radford herself.

Radford’s latest, in a generation-long list of commitments, is no different.

Thanks in no small part to her, and no matter the state of the local economy, the fundraising drive for Central Alberta’s Ronald McDonald House seems well on its way to success.

• When we think of the history of Red Deer, there is no more important resource than Michael Dawe.

He knows Central Alberta’s past intimately and can accurately relate its events, personalities and issues off the top of his head. He also knows exactly where the records are to confirm the details because he collected and collated them.

I came to Red Deer in the late 1970s, shortly before Dawe was named the city’s first archivist.

Like so many other residents, my understanding of this community’s past has been largely shaped by talking to him and reading his columns in the Advocate and other publications.

In my time at the newspaper, I doubt that anybody has been quoted as frequently as Dawe. When a reporter calls for information on prominent citizens who have died, for example, Dawe almost invariably knew them. He can not only detail their achievements, but can relate anecdotes that illustrate their personalities.

Dawe is not only a prolific column author, he has written numerous books, including one that I edited, to help celebrate the Advocate’s 100th anniversary in Red Deer in 2008.

• Ray McBeth is a consummate promoter, and there’s nothing he loves better than building capacity to help the needy in Central Alberta. He has been active for more than a generation, assisting many local causes.

He’s great at tapping into the corporate community for donations, but he’s not just a guy with his hand out, looking for donations. He constantly looks for ways to help donors get something back in return, beyond the warm, fuzzy feelings for doing good work.

McBeth used his role as top honcho at the late local television station (CKRD/RDTV) to shine light on scores of worthwhile causes, including the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter, the David Thompson Health Region and Red Deer College.

When people needed an event organized in a hurry, they would turn to McBeth and he would never let them down.

McBeth ran for mayor in 2004. I didn’t think he was the best choice and said so in an editorial. But that didn’t diminish my respect for his many skills.

McBeth was instrumental, along with Judge Jim Foster, in founding the Young Citizen award in 2003 and resurrecting the Red Deer Citizen of the Year award, which had abandoned between 1992 and 2000.

It seems about time that McBeth also got his due.

Joe McLaughlin retired last year after 25 years as managing editor of the Advocate.