Monday wasn’t the first time a politician’s seat has sat empty during a meeting at White Rock City Hall.
But to those who have made a habit of attending council chambers over the years, the gap left by the absence of longtime councillor Mary-Wade Anderson was decidedly more pronounced this week.
Anderson, who was re-elected last fall for a fifth term on council and always prided herself on never missing a meeting, died at age 84 in Peace Arch Hospital June 26, following complications of a heart-valve procedure she underwent in March.
She was in her 13th year as a city councillor.
In recent years, Anderson had sat three seats to the right of the mayor, and between Couns. Helen Fathers and Larry Robsinson.
Monday, her smile beamed from a framed portrait placed on a table in the centre of the room, flanked by flowers, a small album of photographs and a basket left to collect cards of condolence or memories.
As attendees – including a grandson Anderson had only recently met for the first time – listened, Mayor Wayne Baldwin opened the meeting with a “deliberately brief” tribute.
“The city lost not only a councillor, but a true champion for the community,” Baldwin said.
Following a moment of silence, Baldwin noted there was “much more” to say about the popular senior who had a passion for the local hospital.
In fact, many tributes were expected during a Celebration of Life held Wednesday afternoon (after Peace Arch News’ press deadline) at the White Rock Community Centre. Anderson’s grandson, Michael Montgomery, was among those anticipated to share a few words.
Monday, Baldwin presented Montgomery with Anderson’s name plate, and predicted the service would be “a fitting way to say farewell to Mary-Wade and celebrate her life.”