It wasn’t long ago when just about everyone in Amherst knew Cecil Small, and of the many contributions he had made to both individuals and the whole community.
Cecil and Louise came to Amherst in 1959 from Sussex. He had been manager of the Sears store there, and came here to fill the same position.
One of the first people he met here was my father-in-law, Albert Sorge, and that, of course, led to Cecil becoming a member of the Amherst Lions Club in 1960.
I first met Cecil and Louise around 1966, shortly after my arrival in Amherst in 1965, when Vicki, daughter of Albert and Ruth, started taking me home to meet her parents. We’ve been good friends ever since!
At some point prior to my arrival, the Lions showed interest in the former Dickey Pond property, at that time essentially just a swamp. The school had decreed that they would no longer permit their property to be used as a ball field, so it became necessary to find a new location.
Cecil convinced the Lions Club to build up that swampy property for use as a ball field, amidst some considerable opposition. The story gets little lengthy at this point, but it will suffice to say that the job was done, with many contributions from community business people, including the backstop and the dugout, at no cost to the club. Cecil was one of the main movers and shakers who worked hard to make that happen.
Cecil and Louise were the leaders in starting a Drug Awareness Program in Amherst, which they say met with a lot of resistance at the time, but ended in considerable success.
There are so many stories to tell about his many similar contributions to Amherst, and I have no room here to tell them all. But that’s OK, because Cecil never did anything for anyone for recognition or awards. He just pitched in and did what needed to be done, exemplifying the mark of a true volunteer.
However, in recognition of his many volunteer efforts, Cecil was given the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 2006. In 1996 he was made a Life Member of Lions International. He was named as Amherst’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 1974, and through the years has been recognized with many awards too numerous to mention here.
As often happens, the years have gone by all too quickly, and I have been tardy in the maintenance of my friendship with this man who has been my good friend. So of course, I was totally surprised to hear that he had been hospitalized this past winter for about a month, and even more surprised when he and Louise showed up at Gables Lodge to help my mother-in-law celebrate her 98th birthday. Cecil, by the way, is 93.
We were really happy to see each other again, and his first part of our conversation was a request for me to write a thank you to the staff, especially nurses and doctors, at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre for the wonderful care given to him during his extended stay there. His words were “ this hospital is the best anywhere, and if you have to be in hospital, this is the one you should come to.” He went on at some length about how well he had been treated there.
Cecil had helped me in my earlier years by doing carpenter work for me on one project or another, and of course, now I am more than happy to accommodate this request. I extend on Cecil’s behalf, a big thank you to the folks there for the wonderful care you have provided to him.
Cecil is now a resident at Shannex Norththumberland Hall, and he has similar praise for the staff there. He says, “If you have to be in a place like this, then this is where you should come.”
It has been my pleasure to have accommodated this request on behalf of this fine Amherst gentleman. By the way, no person who has accomplished so much throughout his life as has Cecil, could do so without the help and life-long support of his spouse. I want to take this brief opportunity to say thank you to both Cecil and Louise on behalf of all Amherst citizens, and wish them well in the coming years.
It is, and has been an honour to have called you my friends.
Jerry Randall is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Panel.