Keith Wright will be remembered as a man of vision, a pioneer of the upper Gibsons business community, a philanthropist who gave to charitable organizations and a founder of recreational clubs in Gibsons and Roberts Creek.
Wright passed away April 7 at the age of 88 after investing 65 years in the area he was proud to call home.
He first came to the Coast in 1946 after serving in World War II as an aircraft mechanic. He fell in love with the place and the people and made the move to the Sunshine Coast permanent.
Soon he and friend John Matthews opened the M and W General Store in Roberts Creek. In the early '50s the pair moved their store to the Bal's Block, where Fong's Market now sits.
In 1956, Wright and Matthews opened Super Valu, which was the first business development away from the waterfront. Their vision and leadership would encourage others to set up shop in the area, and soon Sunnycrest Mall was developed.
"Up until this time there was no commercial development in the upper town at all. Their enterprise really opened up the area, and housing developments began to spring up near the schools and the new shopping district," community resident Celia Fisher recalled.
She said Wright joined some other businessmen in sponsoring Roberts Creek Teen Town which had him "helping with social events and seeing that teenagers helped out with adult projects such as clearing the site of the present-day provincial park at the corner of Beach Avenue and Flume Road," Fisher said.
Wright was very involved in starting the Sun-shine Coast Golf and Country Club and the Gibsons Curling Club as well.
Fisher remembers Wright and Matthews also donated the property on which the Kiwanis Care Home, the Coast's first assisted living facility, was built.
"The Kiwanis complex also provided apartments for seniors at reasonable rates," Fisher noted.
She said Wright's donations of land were important to the community, the most recent one being a three-acre parcel (jointly owned with Matthews) that was donated for the building of the new RCMP station in Gibsons.
"Keith's assistance throughout the years has been collaborative and offered without thought of personal recognition. We are all lucky to have had Keith Wright's kind, caring, generous and unassuming help in building our community," Fisher added.
Gibsons Mayor Barry Janyk said many in the community will remember Wright for the way he was always willing to help.
"If there was something that needed to be done, he was one of those characters you could call upon. He had a great understanding of the community and its future and he wanted to contribute towards that," Janyk said.
"He always tried to find ways to give back, and that's what made him such a good guy."
In honor of Wright's contributions to the Town and the people of Gibsons, a street was named in his honour late last year - Wright Road, which intersects Woodsworth Road.
A celebration of Wright's life was held on Sunday, April 17. Donations in his memory can be made to the Royal Canadian Legion, Gibsons Branch #109.