Small towns have a reputation for being both good and bad. On one hand, you know everyone in a small town, on the other everyone knows you and your business.
“That’s not always bad either,” Leroy Dekens said, “If you need help, everyone is right there for you.”
Leroy and Trix (Patricia) Dekens of Telkwa both know well how the ups and downs of small-town living go, but “we wouldn’t give it up for anything,” they both say smiling.
Trix was born and raised in Telkwa. Leroy was born and raised in Chatham, Ontario.
At the age of 16 or 17, Leroy says he ventured out west to live with an aunt, then he met Trix and stayed.
Trix and Leroy married in 1983, and daughter Chelsea was born in the Bulkley Valley.
For six years they lived back in Ontario near Leroy’s family where they had two more children, Curtis and Carrie. They loved the time they spent there.
Eventually though, Trix’s dad Opie, offered for them to take over Midway Service Station and Café, (now called Race Trac, Midway Service) and the draw to work together and raise their family back in the Bulkley Valley brought them home.
“Working together is not for everyone, but for us it works,” Trix said. “It’s hard work and long hours, but Leroy said it allowed him to be home for supper or for anything the kids needed them both to attend.”
The other thing working for themselves has allowed is to be involved in the community.
Leroy is a life-time member of the Kinsmen, and took an active role for 25 years, but when he decided to run for council, he gave up his active role so there was no perceived conflict of interest.
“That was not required,” Leroy explained, “But in a small town conflicts can come up if a club needs something from the Village, so I decided it was time.”
Leroy has served two terms on council, and enjoys the commitment.
“I used to fuss to everyone that came to the service station, oh, this that and the other thing about what the Village was doing and one day I thought I’d better just find out for myself and run for office, and I’m still here, serving. I’m really glad I did. People need to take an active role in the community, and this was the way I could make an impact, and not just fuss about everything.”
For Trix, Leroy is the out-front person in the family. She has been happy to raise the kids and help at the shop and café when they operated it.
She loves to garden these days, and has quite a big greenhouse going in the backyard to keep her busy.
They are both extremely happy to be grandparents, and Leroy declares “we should have had them first,” with a huge laugh and they both smile.
Curtis lives close by in Telkwa and has three girls who are growing fast and keeping grandma and grandpa busy and loving every minute of it.
Their daughters are busy with their growing families too. Carrie is a teacher on maternity leave in Trail, B.C., and Chelsea and her family live back in Chatham, Ontario close to Leroy’s sisters.
Being spread apart doesn’t mean the family isn’t close. Leroy and Trix are very active with all of their kids and grandkids, and extended families, visiting often, and thanks to technology, still being a daily part of their lives.
Life hasn’t been all roses for the extended Dekens family, but they have strong faith and a huge support system in each other, and when one has struggled, “we are right here for each other,” Trix said.
“That’s the beauty of family, you go along and when one hits a bump in the road, the rest of us pick up the slack and help out any way we can.”
“It is the same in a small community,” Leroy said, giving the example of the last couple of COVID years and how difficult it has been for so many people.
“Some people were really struggling, so we tried to help in whatever way we could, you find creative ways, and you show compassion.”
Community, like families, are about give and take, ups and downs, good and bad, but both Trix and Leroy agree you stick it out together, you find a way, and you celebrate the accomplishments together, you mourn the losses, you tackle the problems and find the fixes.
“Life goes on and as we get older, we work smarter, we enjoy the time we have more, and we appreciate the good times more,” Trix and Leroy both say together.
It is kind of that way when you have been together for 38-plus years, you finish each other’s sentences.
As to where they see themselves in the future, they laugh at the same time and both answer “right here!”
“We have made our lives here.”
Leroy wants to continue to serve his community, and Trix enjoys sewing, gardening, reading and keeping up with Leroy, she says with a laugh.
For a couple that has been a fixture in the community for so many years, they are happy to remain this way.
Working for a while longer, serving the community and enjoying their family.
“It’s a great life, what more could we ask?” they again answer in unity.