EDITORIAL – Remembering the legacies of Cliff Branchflower and Pat Wallace
An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
VERY FEW PEOPLE in civic politics or community service can be considered icons, but Kamloops lost two of them on the weekend.
Former mayor Cliff Branchflower and former long-time City councillor Pat Wallace both passed away Saturday. Both were 90.
Cliff was the mayor from 1991 to 1999 after he succeeded another Kamloops political icon, Kenna Cartwright, who died in office. Before that, he was a city councillor and earlier served on the Kamloops school board.
He was known for his dry wit and his firm hand around the council table and all things to do with City Hall. At home, one of his favourite pastimes was making cider with the apples from his backyard trees.
His wife Ruth died in 2021.
Pat Wallace served for many years on Kamloops City council before her retirement in 2018.
For decades she was the most recognizable name and face in local politics and community life in general.
Many boards and committees benefitted from her presence at the table, and she was also involved politically at the provincial level.
During her time on council, she took on other roles such as chairing the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, being president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities and sitting on committees of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
At City council, she had a “Let’s get on with it” approach; after she felt there’d been enough debate, she’d suggest it was time to make a decision.
I had the honour of working with both Cliff and Pat. Cliff and I were on the school board together, and Pat and I were on council together during my two terms as mayor but I also knew both for many years before that.
As editor at the Kamloops Daily News, I came to know Pat even before she first successfully ran for the council in 1980. Cliff, as mayor in the ’90s, regularly visited the newsroom. Succeeding him as mayor in 1999 was a daunting proposition.
Pat and I sometimes disagreed on political issues, and sometimes disagreed strongly, but we continued to be friends.
Those who knew Pat Wallace and Cliff only through their public profiles will have admired them for their service but, on a personal level, in different ways, they were just regular folks trying to do good for the city.
It’s impossible to count the number of lives Cliff Branchflower and Pat Wallace touched over the years, but there are many, many people thinking fondly of them today, remembering Pat for her mentorship and Cliff for guiding the city through a crucial time.
It will be said many times today, but I’ll say it once more — Kamloops is a better place for having had them.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, alternate TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Thank you for this writeup of both Cliff Branchflower and Pat Wallace. They were both excellent examples of commitment, service, and wholesome values. And you also, Mel Rothenburger, have had a positive wonderful influence on the lives of many as you too have served in many capacities and shared your time and talents for the benefit of the community. Thank you.
Very nice tribute to them both. You are right, Kamloops is better off because of them.
Very fitting tributes, Mel. Those two left their mark.