I got an email yesterday from the BC Wildlife Federation that shocked me, because I’d just emailed back and forth with John a few times just before Christmas. So getting the notice that he had passed away on Christmas Day from a heart attack was quite the shock.
I always hate it when I have to update the In Memoriam page over at diArmani.com. Every year more and more names get added to the list of good men and women who’ve shuffled off this mortal coil before seeing a positive change in gun laws here in Canada.
John did a lot of work both provincially with the BCWF, and nationally through his work on the board of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association.
The following story was in the Kelowna Capital News, and is a great recap of his life’s work.
No more BCWF Alerts are dropping into my inbox.
The B.C. Wildlife Federation’s most extraordinary communicator and the man who passionately carried the political banner for its 38,000 members who opposed gun control, became the victim of his own big heart on Christmas Day when it suddenly stopped beating.
John Holdstock approached everything in life with enthusiasm and scanned it first with his quick and unerring sense of humour. His optimism was tempered by reality, but he never gave up a fight as exemplified in his slogan, which appeared at the bottom of each of his alerts and on his blog, “The world is run by those who show up.”
He took that concept personally and he did ‘show up,’ tackling whatever he felt was wrong with the world, even when the opponent was as powerful as the federal government.
John loved the outdoors and was instrumental in protecting wetlands, grasslands and endangered wild places around the southern interior, as a key board member of the Okanagan Region’s Wildlife Heritage Fund Society, and on other organizations where he served.
He didn’t just talk about changing the world, he went about doing his best to correct the wrongs he saw—particularly where it involved fish and wildlife and their habitat; and his colleagues who enjoyed the outdoors.
As well as being an eclectic reader, he had a knack for writing clearly, cutting through the baloney and getting to the heart of the matter. It was a trait appreciated by those who received his Alerts, keeping them up to date on matters of interest to outdoors enthusiasts, and also those who read his blog.
John was an adventurer on the road of life; an explorer. Even into his 70s he embraced the new technology that allowed him to communicate across the continent with friends and family and people interested in discussing topics that intrigued him. Although decisive, he was always willing to listen to why he should change his mind.
Such attributes made him a particularly valuable member of the many boards on which he sat over the years, which included three terms as president of the BCWF, a half-dozen years as chairman of the B.C. Conservation Foundation, a stint on the board of the Kelowna Fish and Game Club nearly 30 years ago and most recently on the board of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association.
When he retired nine years ago after 21 years as secretary-treasurer of B.C. Tree Fruits, it just allowed him more time for his volunteer work, and he remained in touch with some of his colleagues there with a weekly meeting over coffee.
He was also an avid golfer, and had recently returned from a trip to Arizona where it was top of his agenda.
John kept himself fit and took his health seriously—even to the point of regular yoga classes—yet ironically, it didn’t protect him from meeting the same fate as his father.
In the last few months Canadian governments and politicians have lost a couple of thorns in their sides: John, who was constantly rallying the troops against the expensive but worthless firearms legislation and Bill Otway, who waged a battle for decades against the feds’ mis-management of our fisheries resource.
In memory of these indefatigable warriors for our resources and our rights, more of us must take John’s advice and ‘show up,’ or others will run our world as they wish rather than as we would have it run.