Dave Holmberg was remembered as a “proud and unabashed Canadian patriot” at a celebration of his life Monday at Tradex in Abbotsford.
Holmberg, who died in late January at the age of 75, was a prominent philanthropist, businessman and political strategist who was instrumental in the creation of both the Discovery Trail and Abbotsford’s first standalone hospice.
But while there is a long list of organizations and causes Holmberg poured his time and money into, the speakers at Monday’s celebration focused on the man’s personality and how it drove his involvement in the community.
Mike de Jong – Abbotsford West MLA and the province’s finance minister – spoke about Holmberg’s sharp sense of humour and how he “charged through life.”
The several hundred attendees braved icy roads to make it to Tradex and de Jong said Holmberg – who operated a Bobcat dealership for decades – would have loved the snowy weather, although he might question why the two Bobcats flanking the speaker’s dais were not being used elsewhere.
“He charged through this community convinced he would make it a better place to live and that he could convince each of us to do the same,” de Jong said.
Former Mayor Bruce Banman sang O Canada! at the ceremony’s start, and Christy Clark also spoke about Holmberg’s love for his community. Multiple other provincial and local politicians were also in the audience, testifying to his long involvement in managing campaigns for de Jong and former Abbotsford mayor Dave Kandal.
Longtime friend Mark Rushton noted that Holmberg was an extrovert who loved the spotlight and microphone, but that he also had a quieter side that would surface over drinks or lunch.
“We were two old guys sharing lives,” he said of their talks, which ranged from their political activities to their families.
And Deb Lowell of the Salvation Army affirmed Holmberg’s community involvement.
“Dave was devoted to others more than anyone I have ever met.”
Holmberg’s stepdaughter Dee, speaking for her mother, Lee, thanked those in attendance for coming and for their support.
“Please give back to the community as Dave did, with our time and support.”
The ceremony closed with Banman, and then attendees, singing You Are My Sunshine in tribute to Lee.