Sam Olynyk was celebrated for his 50 years of service to the Revelstoke Rotary club during the club’s weekly lunch last Thursday at the Regent Hotel.
“He’s continued to give, support and work for Rotary for 50 years, which is hugely remarkable,” Isabel Reinartson, the assistant district governor, told the packed room. “Sam, we are so honoured to have you here for that long.”
Olynyk was honoured with several gifts and a Paul Harris Fellowship for donating $1,000 to Rotary this year.
For his part, Olynyk said his two greatest memories as a Rotarian were the trips he took to the Ukraine and South Africa. On the former trip he was able to meet some of his Ukrainian relatives. On the latter, he talked about how great it was to be able to travel through the country and be put up by other Rotarians along the way.
“It’s a wonderful experience being a Rotarian and being able to go to any club and you’re always welcome,” he said.
At the lunch, stickers were handed out saying things like, ‘Wave at Sam!’, ‘I know Sam!’ and ‘Sam & Beer!”.
Olynyk is a life-long Revelstoke resident and museum curator Cathy English capped the luncheon by telling a brief history of his life. He grew up in Mt. Cartier, the old Ukrainian farming community south of Revelstoke. At the age of 12 he got his first job at a sawmill and at 16 he was scaling logs. A year late, he became a supervisor. He later was a co-owner of Downie Street sawmill before moving on to work as the public works superintendent.
On top of that, he spent 12 years as a school board trustee, was the president of several sports clubs, was the Revelstoke coroner for 25 years and, of course, has been a Rotarian for 50 years.
“Sam’s one of my go to guys for a lot of Revelstoke history, especially logging industry and the farming communities south of town,” English said.
She also provided a brief recap of life in Revelstoke in 1961, the year Olynyk joined Rotary. That year, Revelstoke submitted a 10-page bid for the 1968 Winter Olympics, hosted the Canadian Nordic Championships, the avalanche control program was started in Rogers Pass, there was a terrible mosquito outbreak that was tackled by spraying DDT and there was a debate over whether or not signs should be allowed on Victoria Road.
“I offer my congratulations to Sam Olynyk and to Revelstoke Rotary Club for your many years of service to the community,” English said.