Year in Review: Some community leaders we lost in Cowichan in 2022

Lake Cowichan’s Kristal Mayo (right) died on New Year’s Eve after battling cancer for many months. Pictured with Kristal is husband Dustin and daughter Kourtlynn. (File photo)Lake Cowichan’s Kristal Mayo (right) died on New Year’s Eve after battling cancer for many months. Pictured with Kristal is husband Dustin and daughter Kourtlynn. (File photo)
Karl Schutz was the ultimate Chemainus booster. (Photo by Art Carlyle)Karl Schutz was the ultimate Chemainus booster. (Photo by Art Carlyle)
Longtime North Cowichan councillor and community booster George Seymour died in 2022. (File photo)Longtime North Cowichan councillor and community booster George Seymour died in 2022. (File photo)
The backbone of the Cowichan Valley Soccer Association, Billy Keserich has died. (Cole Hofstra Photography, www.colehofstra.com)
Longtime Cowichan community advocate Richard Hughes died on April 22, 2022. Pictured here with his wife Maggie. (Paul Indman photo)Longtime Cowichan community advocate Richard Hughes died on April 22, 2022. Pictured here with his wife Maggie. (Paul Indman photo)

Editor’s note: In 2022 the Cowichan Valley community lost some bright lights who brought dedication and service to everything they did. Here are some of those who are no longer with us.

JANUARY

Kristal Mayo, a long-time volunteer for a number of organizations in the Lake Cowichan area, has died.

Kristal’s husband Dustin announced on the Love for Kristal Facebook page that his wife, who was diagnosed with brain and colon cancer last August, died at their home at 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

“She will forever be my Louie, and I’ve prayed to God to take the cancer from her and put it in me, but it just didn’t happen,” Dustin said.

APRIL

George Seymour, a long-time North Cowichan resident, public servant, and former member of council, died on Monday, April 11, and flags are flying at half mast at the municipality in his honour.

“George was a true community leader and quintessential public servant,” said North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring.

Seymour was elected to North Cowichan council in 1996 and served for 15 years, and nine years on the board of the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

Jon Lefebure, a former mayor of North Cowichan, said Seymour was his mentor and role model in local politics.

•••

Richard Hughes — the social activist and outspoken long-standing region- al district director — has finished his career on his own terms.

Hughes suffered from ALS — Lou Gehrig’s disease — and chose Earth Day to end his life, with medical assistance.

He will be remembered as a feisty political figure, a lefty who pulled no punches in his quest for a better community. His biggest targets, of course, were politicians, especially weak ones and those who forgot who elected them. And he railed against government bureaucrats who wielded too much influence over those politicians.

AUGUST

The victim of a fatal crash involving a dump truck and a pickup truck recently in Cobble Hill has been identified as Ken Paton, according to a GoFundMe account set up for his widow, Michelle Paton, by neighbour Tracey Martin.

“Ken was a true gentleman,” wrote Teresa Hlady on the GoFundMe page. “He will be dearly missed by his fellow workers at Thrifty’s, the many lives he touched daily through his deliveries and so many more.”

•••

Karl Schutz always had Chemainus’s best interests at heart.

The man who was a visionary for what murals on the walls around town would mean for the community died at the age of 92 on Aug. 25. He wanted to make Chemainus a primary spot on the global arts map and that’s precisely what happened when the first murals started to go up around town in 1982.

Born in Germany but a longtime resident of Chemainus, Schutz caught on to the mural idea during his travels with wife Betty in Eastern Europe in the 1970s.

DECEMBER

The undisputed backbone of the Cowichan Valley Soccer Association, Bill Keserich Jr. (Billy), unexpectedly died on the week of Dec. 12, sending shockwaves of grief throughout the entire soccer community. He was 52.

Billy wasn’t just a member of the Cowichan Valley Soccer Association. He was the de facto heart and soul of the club.

Part of the Keserich family, a name synonymous with everything that is great about Cowichan soccer, Billy represented a legacy of dedication to the game and to the community that didn’t start with him, but was one he continued proudly.

Year in Review