The last few Sundays seemed a bit odd because there wasn’t the usual knock on the front door of The Herald from Nelson Meikle.
As reported last week, Nelson died unexpectedly at the age of 71 due to complications from cancer surgery.
He popped by to see us a few days before his surgery to say his fight against commercialization would continue once he got out of the hospital.
I bluntly asked what would happen to his battle against the City if he’s not around.
“I’ve got it all looked after, I have a succession plan,” he said with confidence and in his usual jovial tone.
True to his word, Nelson’s Penticton Citizens First, which includes his daughter, will meet and decide what’s next.
That’s the way Nelson wanted it.
I’ve met countless political activists throughout my career but none quite like Nelson Meikle.
He doesn’t trust reporters, in fact, he originally didn’t like me, I’m sure. But he soon learned that I’ve never burned anyone who entrusted me with information.
Soon he was giving all of his exclusives to The Herald, and turning down the opportunity to stand in front of a television cameras for one-on-one interviews. He loved Joe Fries’ reporting.
At the same time, we appreciated his attention to detail.
He often came armed with a briefcase full of documentation, much which was obtained through Freedom of Information requests. He was always a reliable source.
Over the past six or seven months he dropped by nearly every Sunday morning, never staying long, but just keeping us in the loop even though much of which he had to say we were unable to report.
I’m going to miss his visits. He had a good sense of humour. Whether you agreed with his cause or not, you had to admire his tenacity and willingness to fight for the little guy, in this case being future generations of children.
Although he fought with the ferocity of a bulldog, he was, in reality, quite shy. He staged several successful rallies against the original waterslide proposal. There’s two particular moments which stand out in my memory.
I remember a man well into his 80s asking Nelson at a rally, “What can we do to stop this?”
Nelson’s response: “Just keep being good people.”
Then Nelson introduced his grandson, who was 11 or 12 at the time.
“This is the reason I’m doing all of this, for my grandson and for every
other young person in Penticton so they can enjoy the beauty of this park for generations to come.”