It took serious plotting, trickery, and out-and-out deceit for two of Gordon Zacher’s “so-called” friends to get him to the Coast Hotel for tonight’s chamber dinner meeting.
And it took everything Milt Kruger and Michael Jackstien could muster to keep their friend and fellow volunteer in the dark about the real reason for his mandatory attendance at the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce annual Christmas dinner Tuesday night.
Taken totally by surprise, the retired Langley chartered accountant and active community volunteer was there to be crowned citizen of the year.
“It was a big surprise. I wasn’t expecting that at all,” Zacher told the Langley Advance immediately after he was presented with the award.
Zacher moved to Langley in 1961 from Saskatchewan, attended Langley Senior high school, and went on to become a professional chartered accountant, working his entire 30-year career in Langley.
Volunteering, Zacher said, has and continues to be his way of giving back to his community.
Much like his former mentor George Preston, he learned that working quietly behind the scenes, offering his time, donating when needed – not necessarily when asked – was fulfilling and “incredibly rewarding.”
So, it was no surprise that his receipt of the H.D. Stafford Good Citizen of the Year Award was not so much about his professional accomplishments, but more about the “hundreds of hours” of volunteer duties Zacher has devoted to various Langley charities and community organizations through the years.
Among his list of accomplishments, chamber president Scott Johnston noted Zacher’s a lengthy tenure as chair of the B.C. Disability Games, years as treasurer with the Vancouver 2007 Boccia World Cup, years as a director with South Fraser Home Support and Cornerstone Care, as well as his duties with the 2000 BC Games for Athletes with Disabilities, the 2010 Summer Games, and the 2014 BC Senior Games.
His other community involvement not mentioned include serving as treasurer of the Upland Elementary PAC, the Langley YM/YWCA, Brookswood Boy Scouts, Langley Home Support Society, and the Langley School District Foundation. He was also a Kinsmen member, volunteered with the the WC Blair Recreation Centre, Seaton Woodward Foundation, the Township of Langley’s Community Safety Advisory Committee, CARP Chapter 48 South Fraser, the Avalon Gardens, and the Langley Community Music School.
“Gordon is a long-time Langley resident that supports the community he calls home,” Johnston said.
“It’s a truly astonishing, impressive, and remarkable list of contributions that Gord has made to the community,” Johnston added.
“I’ve done a lot of things,” Zacher said, but admitted again to being stunned when he was singled out for this honour.
“People who won it before were really outstanding people. I know a lot of them because of my interaction with them through the years,” Zacher said.
“I’m humbled… This is stunning, to say the least,” he said.
“It’s nice to be recognized.”
Usually, Zacher and Jackstien attend the annual chamber Christmas party. But due to other obligations this year, Jackstien was unable to attend, so Zacher made other plans.
Then, just a few days out from the dinner – chamber organizers began panicking behind the scenes.
They put out a call to another of Zacher’s friends (and last year’s citizen of the year) Milt Kruger. They pleaded with him to find a way to get Zacher to Tuesday’s chamber meeting.
That’s where the trickery came into play, Kruger said, accepting his role in the deceit.
He told Zacher that he needed his help. He needed Zacher to get Jackstien to attend, because Jackstien was supposedly going to receive this year’s Stafford award.
“Not true,” Kruger confessed, a huge grin of accomplishment apparent on his face when Zacher was called to the stage.
The little white lie was worth it, even if it tarnishes what Kruger jokingly called his “impeccable reputation for being honest and trustworthy.”
“I played on Gord’s loyalty to Michael, and I knew he wouldn’t let me down,” Kruger said.
The lies worked. Zacher’s friends got him there, and he admitted to being floored when actually he hearing his own name called.
“I was actually watching Michael for his reaction,” Zacher said, expecting to hear his friends’ name read out.
His so-called buddies burst into near hysterics when they realized their ruse worked.
“He’s absolutely the right choice,” Jackstien said, crediting Zacher with getting involved with almost any worthy cause that comes up – including many projects they’ve worked on together through the years.
“It’s something that Gord deserves because of all the volunteer work he’s done for the last 20 years,” Jackstien added. “It’s so well deserved.”
Johston only scratched the surface when reading a list of Zacher’s community undertakings through the past few decades, Kruger insisted, claiming there’s so many more.
He described Zacher as the consummate volunteer, who gives everything he’s got to the project at hand, describing him as dependable, reliable, and tireless.
“He deserves this more than anyone else I’ve ever known,” Kruger concluded.