Allan Cassidy held onto every ounce of life he had.
Even as he battled lung and brain cancer, he saw to it that he did not miss two monumental events.
On July 2, he proudly walked his 24-year-old daughter, Deirdre, down the aisle on her wedding day. When he passed his daughter’s hand to her fiancé Daniel, he smiled and said, “I made it.”
On July 9 he celebrated his 35th wedding anniversary with wife Penny. He sat behind the wheel of his beloved white Porsche 911 with the top down cruising through the streets of Oak Bay with Penny beside him.
He died the next day.
At Monday’s committee of the whole meeting, fellow Oak Bay council members honoured his life with a minute of silence. Everyone in the room stood and paid tribute.
At the Cassidy residence, Penny and sons, Brendan and Reed, and daughter, Deirdre, remember the beautiful life and wonderful memories they shared with Allan.
“He had so much love and strength,” Penny said. “He was amazing that way.”
Each year for the last 10, a family tradition of hiking Mount Albert Edward in Strathcona Park was something to look forward to.
“It was his trip of choice,” said Brendan. “Even after he was diagnosed, which was April 2009, we continued to go back. We are going to take some of his ashes up there, as well as (spread) some on the water. We will continue to do (the hike) in his honour.”
His love for hiking and camping evolved from his stint in the ’90s as Oak Bay Sea Scouts leader.
He was instrumental in fundraising for a fleet of sailboats and helped set up a junior sailing program out of Oak Bay Marina which continues today.
One of his hobbies was collecting the finest single-malt Scotch whiskies money could buy.
“He started enjoying whisky and started collecting it in 2008,” Penny said. “We went to Scotland on a distillery tour and the trip was a way to see Scotland with a theme of the distillery. You could say that his interest developed drinking with his buddy, Tom Lidkea, as they had tastings together which grew into collecting. Allan has been a member of a few whisky clubs in town.”
A glance around the dining room and living room at the Cassidy home reveals proof. “There are 246 bottles and over 200 are unique,” Brendan said. “He didn’t really drink it as much as he would buy it. Even the last six months he would go into boutique stores and buy it.”
Cassidy was born in Ottawa May 6, 1952. He studied architecture at Carleton University and met Penny in 1975.
Graduating in 1979, he registered with the Architectural Institute of B.C. in 1986 upon opening his own firm in Victoria. He took on projects ranging from private homes, apartments and restaurants to marine and airline terminals, malls and customized office buildings.
He also sat on the Royal Theatre and the Provincial Capital Commission boards.
“His life was about integrity, family, hard work, loyalty and community,” said Penny.
“He had a great sense of humour – we had so much fun. He kept laughing right until the end.”
Duty called veteran councillor
Cassidy kept his illness secret from all but a select number of people. Among those he told were his fellow councillors.
Interviewed by the News for a July 6 story on the fall civic election, he was noncommittal about running to win a sixth term on council, having served since 1996.
In recent years he chaired land-use committee meetings, an appropriate appointment given that he was a longtime architect.
“He was a perfectionist. Everything he touched was done to maximum skill,” said Mayor Christopher Causton.
“He brought an architect’s eye to everything. He was able to lead council because he was incredibly focused and combined that with the love of the community.
“He was an incredible talent to have on council and incredible to have as a friend. He’ll be missed by all council members, not just council, but people far and wide in this community who have benefitted from his experience.”
Coun. Hazel Braithwaite noted that Cassidy had a true concern about the number of older houses being lost in the municipality.
“He really felt the need to encourage restoration or renovation of older homes and was working with staff to develop incentives to residents who chose not to demolish or deconstruct,” she said.
“I know this is something that is also important to other members of council, so I, for one, will be ensuring that we move forward with Allan’s vision.”
• A celebration of Allan Cassidy’s life will be held July 23 at Oak Bay Recreation Centre from 2 to 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the B.C. Cancer Agency or Victoria Hospice.