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NNSL Photo

Les Shaw's family came to Fort Simpson from B.C. last week to get a sense of what his life was like in the Deh Cho. Front row, from left: Karen Shaw and Les' grandchildren C.J. Corsie, Summer Wells, Kenneth Griffith, Matthew Charlton and Jazmyne Wells. In the middle, from left: Harmony Wells, Ron Shaw, Ray Shaw, Bert Shaw, Mary Shaw and Dana Griffith. Standing in back are John Wells and Darin Griffith.

Remembering Les

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (July 29/05) - Les Shaw bid farewell to the Deh Cho in July 2004.

On Boxing Day, his family said an unexpected goodbye to him.

Shaw, the Deh Cho's superintendent of transportation for eight years, died of a massive heart attack on Dec. 26. He was 54.

Last week, his parents, two brothers, two daughters and their families came to Fort Simpson from B.C. to get a better understanding of Les' life in the Deh Cho.

"He didn't talk business when he wasn't here," daughter Harmony Wells explained.

Bert Shaw, Les' father, said he always meant to visit his son in Fort Simpson, but it just never worked out. Within hours of arriving, Bert was surprised to have encountered so many people who spoke fondly of his son.

"I never realized how many people he was associated with," he said. "He sure had a lot of friends."

The family visited the Department of Transportation and met some of Les' former co-workers in person for the first time.

They shared stories and anecdotes about the man they all knew in different ways. They leafed through a memory book of Les' life that the family compiled.

Many of the photographs evoked warm laughter.

Pietro di Bastiani, Les' friend for 15 years, said he will always remember Les' smile and sense of humour in the face of adversity.

The two government employees met in Inuvik, where Les was marine manager at the time.

Avid golfer

Over the years, they went on vacations together, often hitting the links.

Les' family even brought his golf clubs back to Fort Simpson so they could play a round at the local course.

"Les loved golf," Bert said.

Tee times were part of Les' retirement plan in Keremeos, B.C., but nothing was going to take priority over his loved ones.

"All he talked about when he retired was spending time with his family and his grandkids," said Dana Griffith, his other daughter. After settling into his new home, Les hosted his relatives for Thanksgiving dinner. He travelled to his parents' home in Sechelt for the holiday season.

"We had a beautiful Christmas," Harmony said.

While in Fort Simpson, the family announced a bursary in Les' name. It will go to an NWT student with interest in a career in the marine industry.

"My dad was big on education," Dana said, adding that he was often enroled in courses himself.