BARLEE, Bill (Neville Langrell)
1932 - June 14, 2012
Bill had a rich and varied career as a politician, historian, television host, author, publisher, museum collector/curator, entrepreneur, and high school teacher. A major focus of Bill's life was the preservation and promotion of British Columbia's history and heritage. Born in Grand Forks, BC, Bill grew up in the Boundary, Kootenay and Okanagan areas, there developing a deep love for the land and its history. He was a popular schoolteacher for seventeen years, latterly at Penticton Secondary High School, where he taught Social Studies and coached the boys' track and field team. In 1968, Bill left teaching to write and publish his local history magazine "Canada West" and his books including the best sellers "Gold Creeks and Ghost Towns" and "The Guide to Gold Panning in BC." Bill co-hosted the popular and award winning CHBC TV series, "Gold Trails and Ghost Towns" which ran from 1986 to 1996 on five different networks nationwide. The show is still seen in reruns. Bill had deep roots in the New Democratic Party, calling himself an "entrepreneur with a social conscience." Although a social democrat, Bill had friends across the political spectrum. Bill won the Boundary/Similkameen provincial by-election in 1988. From 1991-1993, he was Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, introducing the very successful "Buy BC" program. He especially enjoyed his next Cabinet position as Minister of Small Business, Tourism and Culture, 1993-1996. In this position Bill pursued his lifelong interest in preserving BC history and promoting the province. Vancouver Sun columnist, Denny Boyd, remarked that Bill was one of the best Tourism Ministers BC had ever had. Among other awards, Bill received the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002. In addition to Bill's many talents and interests, he was a gifted athlete who excelled at hockey, lacrosse and tennis. His Okanagan Valley high school record for running the mile, lasted 20 years. In tennis, Bill won the Okanagan Valley singles title seven times, and the doubles 13 times with his good friend, Roland Schwarz. Later in life, Bill delighted in trouncing tennis players thirty years his junior. Many people enjoyed Bill's company and appreciated his dynamic personality, charm, sharp mind, wonderful sense of humour, kindness, contagious laugh and irrepressible joy for life. Bill is survived by his wife Kathleen Kyle, their daughters Veronica, Gwen and Diane Barlee, and granddaughter Laura Barlee-Morris. By family request, no service will be held at this time. Donations to the SPCA may be made in Bill's memory. Special thanks to the doctors and nurses at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria, for their excellent care. To leave a condolence, please visit www.earthsoption.com.
Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province on June 30, 2012