Councillor, long-time coach passes away

Coun. Struchan Gilson, a familiar face in municipal politics as well as on the local sports scene, passed away suddenly at his home on Thursday.
“It is with great sadness that the flags at town hall are being lowered to honour the passing of Coun. Struchan Gilson,” Mayor Dan Onichuk said in a statement released late Thursday.
“A dedicated man who touched the lives of so many people across our town and district,” he added.
In respect of Coun. Gilson’s memory, council gathered for a moment of silence and reflection on Thursday. As well, the regular meeting of council for this coming Monday (Aug. 22) has been postponed until Monday, Aug. 29.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft, who not only sat next to Coun. Gilson at the council table, but was a long-time friend.
He said Friday morning that Coun. Gilson will be “sorely missed” as a man who gave much to his community over the decades, including being instrumental in the high school volleyball and soccer athletics programs.
“He worked with literally thousands of young people over the years. And the impact he had on them was immeasurable,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft remarked.
“He turned shy, introverted individuals into outgoing young people. He always brought out the best in whoever he worked with.
“I think he was not only respected by the athletes he coached, but loved by them,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft remarked.
Coun. Wiedenhoeft noted he coached Muskie senior girls’ volleyball with Coun. Gilson for many years, and spent a lot of time with him on the road. “He was a great source of energy. And he was reliable—he was always where he was needed,” he said.
On the municipal front, Coun. Wiedenhoeft said Coun. Gilson “brought the human touch to council.”
“Quite often, we get caught up in policies and regulations,” he said. “Struchan always brought our discussions back to the people, and what impact our decisions would have on them.
“He’ll be sorely missed by council,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft remarked. “And I’ll miss him as a friend and colleague.”
Coun. Gilson is survived by his wife, Pat; son, Eric (Jen) of Gibbons, Alta.; daughter, Rylee (Richard) of St. Albert, Alta.; and several grandchildren.
His other son, Garfield, had just passed away suddenly back on July 23 in Halifax, N.S.
Gilson was born and educated in the United Kingdom. He came to Canada in 1955 and graduated from Waterloo Lutheran University. After teaching in Orillia and Waterloo, he moved with his wife, Pat, to Fort Frances in 1967.
After 34 years of teaching at the elementary and high school level, he retired in 1996.
Coun. Gilson had been serving his third-consecutive term on town council. He was first elected in 1997.
Coun. Gilson also was very active in sports, sitting on the local recreation commission for more than 20 years, and helping initially organize and co-ordinate the Men’s Borderland Soccer Association as well as several local races (including the Terry Fox Run).
He also was involved in getting the Eighth Street ski trails built and maintained.
And Coun. Gilson was heavily-involved in elementary and high school sports for more than 40 years. He helped start, and then coached, the Muskie girls’ soccer team for the last 20 years, and coached and refereed junior and senior girls’ volleyball for over 15.
He also coached, refereed, and supervised field preparation for the 2000 OFSAA girls’ soccer championships.
Funeral arrangements were still pending as of press time Friday.

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