Ken Gillis, the former chair of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board of directors, has died at the age of 79, passing away suddenly on Wednesday, Sept. 13.
Gillis, whose working career included stints as a lawyer and as a truck driver, was first elected as TNRD Electoral Area L (Grasslands) director in 2011 and served as regional district board chair from 2018 to 2022. His time as chair included having to navigate the regional district through the spending controversy linked to former TNRD CAO Sukh Gill, a situation that led to a forensic audit of the regional district and significant policy changes.
Gillis decided against seeking re-election in the October 2022 civic election. Doug Haughton now serves as Electoral L director.
“His four years as board chair were marked by the pandemic, a horrendous fire season in 2021 and the forensic audit, but through it all, he provided a steady hand as he guided the board through a tumultuous time,” current TNRD board chair Barbara Roden said in a statement. “I enjoyed working with him and hearing his many stories of a life well-lived, while his songs and anecdotes brightened many an informal gathering. He was a gentleman of the old school who will be hugely missed and our thoughts are with his wife Linda, his family and his many friends.”
Gillis’ wife, Linda Brown, was a city councillor in Merritt from 2014 to 2018 and served as mayor of the Nicola Valley community from 2018 to 2022.
TNRD CAO Scott Hildebrand said it was an honour to work with Gillis, noting he will always remember his late colleague’s sense of humour.
“How he would break into song at the drop of a hat and his passion and commitment to the TNRD,” Hildebrand said. “He will certainly be missed and my sincere condolences go out to his wife, Linda Brown and their families.”
The flags outside the TNRD Civic Building in downtown Kamloops will be lowered to half-mast in mourning for Gillis’ passing.