Ron Purnell at Bulkley Lodge, January 2021. (Northern Health photo)

Town lowers flags to honour former councillor Ron Purnell

Purnell died April 7 at the age of 92

The flags at Smithers Town Hall are flying at half-mast today in honour of former councillor Ronald Purnell, who passed away April 7.

Purnell was an alderman (councillor) during the late 1970s and early 1980s and involved in many of the decisions that shaped the character of Smithers today.

He was a supporter of the development of the ski hill and pool and a proponent of the town’s alpine theme according to reports in The Interior News.

Purnell was born in Narborough, England in 1929, the youngest of five children. He married Rose Reece in 1957 and the two of them immigrated to Houston in 1963 where he worked for the Hamblin family logging. In 1966, they moved to Smithers where he founded Highland Electric.

He was a businessman with a reputation for honesty and fairness.

In addition to his involvement in municipal government, Purnell was heavily involved in the community including the Lions Club, minor hockey, and the Royal Canadian Legion.

“Our dad will always be remembered for his witty banter and joyous smile,” the family said in his obituary. “He will be sadly missed at happy hour, and more importantly, missed by all that knew him.”

Purnell was 92 and a resident of Bulkley Lodge at the time of his death. He is predeceased by Rose (2011) and is survived by his three children, Julie Vanderkooi (Rob), Steven Purnell (Rhonda) and Michael Purnell (Tricia) as well as nine grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

The Town of Smithers has a policy to lower the flags in the event of the death of a current or former councillor. Council directed staff to go ahead and lower the flags at its regular meeting last night (April 12).

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