A Local Hero in Our Midst

Earlier this week, I published a Guest Post by Anabel Marsh on ‘Hidden Histories.’ Her thoughtful, provocative post led to much reflection, including “Who does your town/city honour?’ It’s a great question.

Vancouver Island, where I currently live, is home to influential and well-known actors, artists, athletes, journalists, musicians, philanthropists, politicians, Prime Ministers, scientists, Nobel Laureates, writers and more. Many are honoured on our island in a variety of ways.

One small section of this island is home to a local hero who does not neatly fit into one category. Phil St. Luke (aka ‘Flying Phil’) may not be well-known outside of his surrounding area…but within his community he is much loved and celebrated. Phil is frequently featured in local news stories, has a Facebook Fan Club Page and YouTube video. He leads his town’s annual Canada Day Parade, and his birthday, March 7, is known to locals as ‘Flying Phil Day.’

I first heard of Flying Phil from a previous island resident who had grown up with Phil being a huge part of his community. This man had made a return visit to the island so that his young son could also meet Flying Phil.

What’s so unique about Phil? A former Special Olympian originally from Vancouver, Phil has lived in the Oceanside area since the 1970’s. Unquestionably he has become the community’s unofficial ambassador. He is well known by generations of Oceanside residents for his daily rounds through the town’s streets, coffee shops and businesses where he warmly greets everyone whom he meets. His big smile, his exuberance, his desire to do good and his volunteer work with multiple community programs have been an inspiration to many.

Phil’s relentlessly optimistic outlook is contagious. Common quotes about Phil include “He brings sunshine wherever he goes”, “His presence fills every room he enters” and “Phil is somebody who mingles with everybody.” Gordon Johns (Courtenay-Alberni Member of Parliament) recently posted this about Phil, “He brightens our days and enriches our lives.”

Phil has affectionately been called “a walking landmark.”  Numerous community members have advocated for a life-sized bronze statue of Phil to be commissioned and erected in Oceanside. To date, official plans have not been confirmed for the making of this statue. Phil’s playful response, “People want a statue of me, and I’m not even dead!”

I’m proud to live in an area that deeply honours such a unique and inspirational ambassador. It is my belief that erecting a statue dedicated to this local hero would be a well-deserved tribute to this man and would say much about the community that surrounds him.

You can read and watch ‘good news’ stories about Phil here:

and here:

Parksville preparing for Canada Day 150 celebrations

and here, here, , here, here, here, and here!

We Are The WorldThis post has been written as part of ‘We Are the World Blogfest’. WATWBF seeks to “promote positive news stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit“. The intention is to increase our awareness of daily kindnesses that receive little recognition and are so often strangled by negative news stories around us. I believe that Phil St. Luke is an excellent example of such kindness and resilience.#WATWB #WATWBF

68 Replies to “A Local Hero in Our Midst”

  1. Just from your description I really like Phil. We often hear of the famous personalities who win Oscars or Noble prizes, but we seldom hear about people like Phil beyond the borders of their community. One of my pet peeves has been about the lack of recognition for the people who are extraordinary in everyday tasks. Thanks for highlighting Phil. It was a refreshing story!

    1. Thanks, Fran! Anabel’s post really got me thinking about ‘who we honour’ and ‘why’. I am very proud to live in an area that recognizes and celebrates Phil St. Luke for all that he gives to his community. I am sad for the multitudes of Phils out there who give to their communities in a million ways and are left to feel underappreciated.
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…A Local Hero in Our MidstMy Profile

  2. Thanks, Karen – I agree that Phil’s recognition is well-deserved. When I think about all of the things that I love about living on Vancouver Island (and the list is long), I always think about how our small communities come together and celebrate each others’ strengths and uniqueness.. I’m currently working on a Guest Post on ‘Social Integration’ and once again, I’m grateful that our small communities provide an excellent example of this concept.
    Retirement Reflections recently posted…A Local Hero in Our MidstMy Profile

  3. Proud Canadian that I am, I have no problem with the collection of royals astride horses sprinkled about our cities, but a statue that honours someone for being kind and generous, and you know, just an all round great human being… sign me up 🙂

    1. Hi, Aimer – I totally agree. I believe that approving, making and displaying a monument of Phil would speak volumes not only of this amazing man, but also of the community’s history, spirit and values. My fingers are crossed and my advocacy is high!

  4. What a lovely guy – wouldn’t it be nice to leave a legacy of “she brought sunshine with her wherever she went” when it’s time for us to leave this earth. It’s simple things and uncomplicated people that life is really all about – the more we over-think things, the less happy we are.
    Leanne recently posted…MIDLIFERS WHO WANT TO SHARE THE LOVEMy Profile

  5. Donna, I had not heard about this well known local person until you wrote about him. In fact, when I read the nickname “Flying Phil,” I immediately thought about a different Flying Phil, a politician who was famous/notorious in British Columbia in my childhood — Flying Phil Gaglardi. Here’s a Vancouver Sun article about him: http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/canada-150-flying-phil-was-provinces-most-prolific-public-works-builder

    It was fun chatting with you today!

    Jude
    Dr Sock recently posted…Fighting the Creative MuseMy Profile

  6. Wow, Donna, you turn your words into deeds quickly! I remember you were going to look into meaningful people in your area and, voila, the week after Anabel shared her fascination with “hidden history” and remarkable women, you deliver this beautiful post. Every community should have a Flying Phil! And, maybe most of them actually do in one way or another?
    Liesbet recently posted…On Call for Three WeeksMy Profile

  7. Hi Donna – lovely to read about your journey over to Beijing and to see your new life as ‘retirees’ – though I don’t think it fits exactly. Thank you for telling us about Flying Phil – I’m on the other side of Nanaimo, Cobble Hill area, being with an elderly cousin (Jenny who is 90 on Wednesday) – helping the family by being here – from England. It is a change – so saying I’ve heard about Flying Phil via the #WATWB will make people smile. Amazing man … cheers for now – Hilary

    1. Hi, Debbie – Thanks so much for stopping by. You make an excellent point. I believe that there are likely many ‘Community Ambassadors’ out there — just waiting to be recognized. I’d too love to be known for bringing a smile to everyone’s face!

  8. I think it is wonderful that this man has such a kind spirit and he isn’t afraid to share his love for his fellow human being. Thanks for sharing this story and for being a part of #WATWB

    1. Hi, Lynn – I agree–it is wonderful for a community to recognize and celebrate their members based on kindness and generosity. I wonder what changes would take place if all of our towns and cities did this? Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I greatly appreciate this.

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