Two well-known and respected White Rock community figures bade farewell to their seaside city earlier this month.
Former chair of South Surrey/White Rock chapter of CARP and avid volunteer Jack Mar, and his wife, Arleen, have left their longtime home for Toronto to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
The dynamic duo, who have both been heavily involved in their community, left for Ontario on July 14.
Days before leaving, 77-year-old Jack spoke with Peace Arch News about his work locally.
“When you think about all the other personal things aside, the most recent accomplishments with CARP – I’m really proud of that,” he said.
He noted that prior to becoming involved with CARP – which he was a member of for a number of years before becoming chair – it was a loosely knit group that at the time covered the Fraser Valley, Richmond, Delta, White Rock and Surrey.
“That was my first challenge. This was far too big a district for CARP. What we needed to do was develop some others chapters in various regions and get the word out that we have to build the membership for them,” he said.
Under his leadership, CARP developed branches in Langley and in the Fraser Valley. Currently, there are separate branches in Richmond and there is a North Fraser chapter, as well, he noted.
“It started with this kind of approach that I took. We must expand, and now it’s happening. I feel good about it because it took a lot of work,” he said.
Aside from CARP, Mar, who previously worked at now-defunct department store Woodward’s and his wife were heavily involved with their strata when living in their Sussex House condo.
“When we became involved it required another element, a feeling of community,” he said. “Me and my wife worked hard to create our own little community in a community. We had regular weekly meetings, Christmas parties or we’d just play cards.
“We built up a very strong internal community because my wife and I made a point to figure out how to do this.”
The desire to affect positive change in his community has extended to his work with Rotary, the White Rock Chamber of Commerce and the film community.
“With our acting work, we’ve developed a lot of friends, including in the Asian acting community that we associate and socialize with,” he said, noting Arleen’s Norwegian heritage has been a complement to his Asian background. “It’s enriching in our lives that we’re accepted by both groups.
“We’ve lived an interesting life and there have been challenges that came along – that’s part of our whole background. We’ve been in the South Surrey/White Rock community since 1985 and it’s been a real exciting adventure.”
Now, though, Mar and his wife have agreed on a new stage in their lives that will bring them closer to their family.
Though hesitant to follow them as they moved from the Peninsula in the past, the pair decided it was time to pack up and spend as much time with their grandchildren as possible.
“We have kind of missed being close to some of those important events. My wife is very supportive, if not anxious (for the move),” he said. “The wife of a family unit wants to have that kind of lifestyle to be near your kids.”
And while some seniors may take the move as a sign of retirement, the Mars have no plans to slow down in Toronto.
“There’s no question we’ll probably get involved in Toronto, but maybe in a more social aspect,” he said. “Volunteerism has been a big part of our lives and it’s been satisfying. There will be a lot history here that will be missed, but it’s time for a new adventure.”