FLYING PHIL GAGLARDI will finally get his name on a major Kamloops edifice.
And it’s fitting that his wife Jennie is included in the new name for the patient-care tower under construction at Royal Inland Hospital. Together, they made a tremendous mark on this city and province with decades of selfless public service.
As Phil’s biographer, I got to know a lot about the Gaglardis. When I was researching and writing the book Friend o’ Mine, the story of Flyin’ Phil Gaglardi, in the 1980s and early ‘90s, I had to get up way too early most Saturday mornings and meet Phil for breakfast (he preferred eggs, hash browns and coffee) at the Sandman Inn on Columbia Street.
He was an early riser, and he’d always be there waiting for me by the time I pulled in shortly before 7 a.m. We’d sit for hours talking about his life in politics and the church. Our meetings spanned the years just before and after his election as the mayor of Kamloops in 1988 but our discussions ranged back to his childhood.
I couldn’t help but like and admire this man with the huge ego and accomplishments to match. He wasn’t an easy interview because his own views didn’t always jibe with history, but it’s hard to argue with someone with his resume.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.