‘Small town’ couple give in a big way

Phyllis and Bert Terry have found that moving to smaller communities has paid huge benefits in their lives. Now they are making a sizeable donation to Penticton Regional Hospital through the SOS Medical Foundation.

Life in a small town has always held an attraction for Phyllis and Bert Terry.

After living for years in small towns around BC and the Prairies, the Penticton couple have donated $30,000 to help provide medical equipment for the Penticton Regional Hospital expansion.

Bert’s ties to small town life date back to his childhood. His father worked as a station agent for the CPR and the family lived in a number of rural towns, including several years in Hardisty, AB, east of Edmonton.

After taking a break from high school in 1947 to help construct a new oil pipeline from Alberta to Wisconsin, Bert eventually returned to school and graduated in 1950 in the equally small town of Hughenden, AB.

After a short stint as a telegraph operator with the CPR in the village of Leoville, Sask., Bert joined the RCMP in 1952 and remained with the Force for 25 years until retiring in 1977. He was posted at several detachments around BC.

Bert continued his working career with the provincial government, including stints with the Ministry of Human Resources, the BC Liquor Board and as a coroner. His final job was in Penticton where he worked as a liquor inspector.

Phyllis grew up in Courtenay, BC and was working as a telephone operator in the Vancouver Island community when she met Bert through some friends. He was serving with the RCMP at the time and they married in 1957.

The couple’s two sons were born in Courtenay and Kamloops, as the family moved to different RCMP detachments around the province. I enjoyed small places, Bert said. You knew everybody and you got involved in the community.

Although Phyllis had spent her entire childhood in Courtenay, she relished an opportunity to experience life other communities.

One year he took me on a trip to all the places he had lived in Alberta and Saskatchewan, including Leoville, she recalled. But by then there was nothing there  the railway had shut down.

Bert said Phyllis quickly became attached to each community. Every place we lived, she never wanted to leave, he said. And when she got to the new place, she didn’t want to leave there either.

A move to Fort St. John and the Peace River country in the mid-1970s was especially tough. He dragged me up there, Phyllis said. But the people were so friendly.

The couple moved to Penticton in 1986. Phyllis admitted she cried all the way down to the Okanagan, but they soon found life in the Peach City much to their liking and opted to retire here.

They have now decided to donate to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s PRH campaign. Bert contracted Hepatitis C from a blood transfusion in Vancouver. However, he credits his family doctor and other physicians in Penticton for putting him on a drug therapy which eventually cleared the ailment.

I spent a lot of time in the hospital and it worked out that I was able to function really well for about 20 years, he said. They’re still treating me well.

The couple emphasize the SOS Medical Foundation’s efforts to provide new medical equipment for the PRH expansion will benefit everyone in the community.