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February 22nd, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 8
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Buddy, you will be missed ...
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Archive photo
Trevor 'Buddy' Slapak (1930-2017)
Editorials and Opinions
When I took over the editorial page a few weeks ago, I never in my wildest imagination thought I would be writing on the topic of today’s editorial. It just seems like yesterday that I was telling you all that I would be stepping into Buddy’s proverbial shoes for just a short time while he was ill.

By definition, an editorial is “an opinion piece written by the senior editorial staff or publisher of a newspaper, magazine, and reflects the opinion of the periodical.” You see, the crazy part is that Buddy really was the Pass Herald. He loved this place; he embodied it. It wasn’t just a job. In many ways, it was his home. He spent the better part of 65 years in this industry. He wrote about these towns before they even became a community. He wrote about its tragedies, he wrote about its triumphs, and he wrote the history of this community in the ink stains left on his fingers.

I have issues of the Pass Herald, old issues, where he handwrote the news, drew the ads by hand, and told a story. He would smile when people asked him why he was still working, and I knew that he didn’t consider this place “work.” It was his home, his family, his legacy and his pride.

My mom bought into the Pass Herald in 1970 and I was born in 1972, so there really wasn’t a time that Buddy wasn’t a part of my life.
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He was, to me, that special person that thought I could do no wrong. He was my best friend in many ways, that person that never judged me, always loved me and was proud of me no matter how bad I screwed up in life.

Believe it or not, it really wasn’t in my plan to work at the Pass Herald, but 17 years ago, when we lost some staff and were short-handed, I stepped up to the plate. I used to bring Keiran to work with me at the mall, when it really was a mall and he would bounce around in his Jolly Jumper while I typed the news. I used to think that I wasted six years of university working at the Pass Herald. I used to be embarrassed by my university peers who were all out conquering the world while I sat at a typesetter typing.

Little did I know back then that I would be able to spend 17 years with the greatest man I have ever met. Bud taught me so much. How to be kind, how to be a better parent and how to value people, not things.

I would walk into work every day, put my jacket on the chair in his office and kiss him on the cheek. Often, it was just the two of us and I valued each and every moment with him.

He taught me to love music. Every year when I was getting ready for festival, he would come to my house and listen to me play the piano. It was our thing, our love of music. He was the first person to tell me to keep playing instruments because I certainly didn’t get my dad’s voice.

Buddy was there for me when I lost both my parents. He was that one person I could count on to hold me and wipe my tears, and for just a moment I didn’t feel like I had to ‘adult’ anymore. I could just for a brief moment let someone else take over.
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Buddy was, for all intents and purposes, my children’s grandparent. Quinn was little when my parents got sick and he took right over as Grandpa Bud. He delivered papers with me as a little girl, and with each of my boys. He taught them how to be better men. He went to all their hockey games and was so proud of the people they are becoming. Often I would say, “Oh Bud, Keiran is driving me crazy”, and he would respond, “Oh Lisa, you’re too hard on him. He’ll be just fine.” And he was right. He was always able to put it into perspective for me.

When I was tired and exhausted when caring for my mom and dad, he would stop at my desk here at work and tell me I was doing the right thing and that I would never regret the choice I made to be their caregiver. Again, he was right.

You see, don’t we all need that one person to just believe in us? To think we are amazing even when we really don’t believe it ourselves? How many of us truly get that in life, that one person who just loves us, with no expectation of anything in return?

And Buddy wasn’t just my person. When I read the condolences on our Facebook page, I can see he was everyone’s person. He wasn’t malicious or mean, but he was opinionated. He had values and morals and he lived in an era when men were gentlemen. Buddy didn’t value things, but rather people. He lived in a trailer, he drove old cars, he didn’t have fancy things, but to me, that man was richer than any person I have ever met. He valued people. He valued relationships. He valued time spent with the people he loved. It humbles me thinking about it right now.
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No one makes tons of money working in a newspaper. You do it ‘cause you love it. To subsidize his income, Buddy did a number of jobs from working as a mortician’s assistant to driving a taxi. He loved to tell the story about picking up the prostitutes from the train each Friday and driving them to the red brick house in Frank for the weekend. You see, Buddy was the Crowsnest Pass. He was its history and now part of that history is gone. One person said to me that Buddy most likely forgot more about this community than most people will ever know.

Its been really hard on me to come to work, to walk by his office where he typed his editorials, where he listened to his music too loud and where he spent his life. It’s hard for me to write this editorial knowing that he’s not coming back through these doors. It’s hard for me, having lost every adult person in my life in a span of 30 months, but that’s just life. It’s beautiful and it’s ugly and it’s hard.

I held Buddy in my arms as he died and not for one moment will I forget those beautiful eyes as they finally closed. It’s like a chapter in the Pass Herald went away in that moment. Another chapter in the Crowsnest Pass has been written.

The Pass Herald will continue to be your paper. We are steeped in the history of this valley, in the ink that flowed over our pages for the last 87 years. I will keep Buddy’s legacy going because that is what he asked me to do.

 All of us here at the Herald will continue to run this paper with the diligence that Buddy put into this community and into his newspaper. We are a small but loyal group. Bud loved the Crowsnest Pass, he loved this paper and he loved the people in this valley. He was their voice for 65 years and over 3,000 editorials.

The paper is a little less bright tonight, the office is quiet and I will miss that man for the rest of my life. He taught me more about being a person than anyone in this world and for that gift, I will forever be grateful.

Goodnight, my friend. Until we meet again.
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February 22nd, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 8
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