Dozens filled a pocket park on the corner of Springfield Drive and Davis Crescent on Saturday, in remembrance of an Aldergrove man dubbed the “Mayor of Springfield.”
Friends and neighbours of the Beggs family gathered for the park’s renaming – to David Beggs Memorial Park – which hosts grass areas, a playground, benches, and a picnic table.
Beggs built one of the first houses in Springfield Village – a residential development south of Fraser Highway along the eastern border of Aldergrove – in 1978, where he lived with his wife Marilyn until his passing last July.
The father was a well-known resident of Springfield for four decades.
Beggs passed away at the age of 75 after initially seeing doctors for what he thought was bronchitis, his wife, Marilyn, said.
Upon further examination, cancer was detected in his lungs and was said to have spread to his bones.
His 38-year-old son Shawn stood behind the memorial plaque at the park, which served as somewhat of a pulpit during the dedication ceremonies.
The son shared memories made in the park that is within walking distance of the Springfield home they grew up in.
“He definitely will be missed,” Shawn said.
Throughout the years the park has been through “a lot of different changes,” the son explained. “It started with just one little swing set” that his dad even helped “put in the ground.”
As they grew up, the small park became a place for freeze tag, baseball, and even a football field.
“This place was everything to us,” Shawn emphasized, crediting his childhood best friend from the subdivision, Aaron Campbell, and former Township councillor Charlie Fox for making the memorial park a reality.
The vote to rename the Township-owned park was one of Fox’s “last act in council,” Campbell told the small crowd.
Shawn remembers days when his father would mow the lawn while he and Campbell would frolic in the playground.
And it wasn’t just the park that Beggs “ran” either. It was the entire subdivision, said his oldest son, Jason.
Beggs “knew everything that went on,” remaining vigilant at all hours to protect neighbours from becoming victims of crime, Jason recounted.
“My dad would clean up every pathway in Springfield so that mom wouldn’t get branches in her face when she walked to Safeway,” Shawn lauded.
Beggs was also known to perform repairs and general maintenance on homes for needy families in the community.
“You are more like him then you know,” his mother told her grieving son.
There were moments during the ceremony when Shawn paused his speech to recompose himself, holding back the lump formed in his throat from tears.
In other moments, his sister Donelle hunched over the sign crying, immediately comforted by hugs from neighbours and friends.
Friends at the gathering recalled memories of morning coffee talk with Beggs at A&W, or seeing the father out during all hours of night caring for his lawn, cleaning up the neighbourhood or performing repairs on the park.
“I wish I just could talk to him again,” Shawn admitted. “Just one more time.”
To which his mother replied: “Anytime you want to be with him – just come back here. You can talk to him here.”
Beggs left behind three daughters and two sons, as well as three grandchildren.
“People these days don’t care about things like he did – he cared about everyone and everything,” his son added.
Beggs was known to strike up a conversation with the “down and out,” just as much as he would with any other member of the community, Shawn said.
Beggs’ close friends attended the ceremony, recalling times of travel when they’d lose him to a lively conversation with strangers.
Before inviting neighbours and friends over for a celebratory coffee, tea, and refreshments at the family home, Beggs’ widow took a few moments alone with the dedication plaque, kissing her finger tips and laying them on the memorial – repeatedly whispering “I love you.”