Dad, funny guy, Canada booster, community advocate, tweeter. Born Jan. 22, 1971, in Montreal, died July 27, 2013, in Pitt Meadows, B.C., of cancer, aged 42.
Alexander Patrick Wakeling felt he embodied Canadian uniqueness. He was a lifelong booster of all things Canuck.
Being both French and English was a particular point of pride for him. His mother, Carmen Lemelin, was a francophone beauty and his father, Terry Wakeling, a hard-working anglophone.
Sandy’s good nature made him highly adaptable. When the family moved to Port Elgin, Ont., he quickly surrounded himself with a group of buddies. His friendships were like his collection of Canadian memorabilia (figurines and mugs of prime ministers as well as T-shirts and books) – he cherished them, kept them close and enjoyed the entertainment they provided.
His sense of humour was a defining characteristic. He could always be relied upon for a witty comment. He had a quiet way about him and doing things for others came naturally. Cups of tea were presented, activities were organized, sasquatch footprints were made on snow for excited children to find. He was also a superb listener. Everything seemed to interest him.
Politics was Sandy’s passion. From intrigue at the Carleton University students’ association (where he began an initially clandestine romance with one Alison Biggs) to leadership campaigns and municipal, provincial and federal elections, Sandy thrived “in the thick of it.”
From the beginning, he and Ali were a team. She, then a New Democrat, and Sandy, then a Tory, ran together for student government on a progressive slate.
Sandy had strong values, a commitment to helping people and a wide pragmatic streak. His politics were always rooted in what he believed would best serve his community, particularly his adopted home of Pitt Meadows, B.C. He volunteered in many capacities, most notably as a key organizer of the Terry Fox Run.
He was well suited for a communications career. He was one of the first people to encourage Premier Christy Clark to take a stab at the leadership of the B.C. Liberal Party, and his contributions to the social media aspect of her campaign caught wide attention. A prolific tweeter in his own right, he boasted more than 11,000 of them.
When he was diagnosed with a rare form of intestinal cancer, both Sandy and Alison tackled it with energy and undaunted spirits. Ali pedalled hundreds of miles to raise thousands of dollars for cancer research. Through many operations and chemotherapy regimens, Sandy worked, volunteered and gardened. Most of all, he spent time with his beautiful boys, William and Sebastien.
A lover of the outdoors, Sandy spent countless hours sharing nature with his sons and nurturing their hobbies. Not a precious moment was wasted (he even kept a bucket list on Pinterest). The family travelled to Disney World and to Hawaii, where Sandy caught waves with a vengeance. He was so active and visible that many didn’t realize he was ill.
One day last June, he got home from work to find representatives from the Pitt Meadows Community Foundation in his living room. They told him he had been named citizen of the year. He received the award on Canada Day from MLA Doug Bing, who also read Sandy’s many accomplishments into the record of the B.C. Legislature.
Sandy died at home, in the arms of his devoted wife.
Allie Vered is a family friend.
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