The bench sits just off Elm Street, overlooking the soccer fields and playground at the pool park in Ashcroft. On this particular day the sky is vivid blue overhead and the sun beats down; there is a scent of newly-blossomed foliage in the air. On the field below a piece of lawn-keeping equipment moves in slow, steady lines up and down the grass, getting it in order for soccer season.
It’s not hard to picture the field as it will be in a few short weeks, teeming with children and parents, coaches and onlookers; and anyone wanting to view the soccer action could do far worse than choose this particular bench to sit on. Many people undoubtedly will choose it, which is why it has been placed there, in memory of a man who loved to be with people.
“Ed was such a social person, and we wanted somewhere people could sit down and think of him,” says Susan Maximiuk, who spearheaded the fundraising for the bench after Ed’s death in early 2014. He is remembered in the words inscribed on the bench: “live love learn laugh. Gone Fishing. Ed Gyoba 1948 – 2014.”
The idea for a memorial to Ed came when a candlelight vigil was held after his death. “People just wanted to donate money,” says Maximiuk. “We didn’t know what we were going to do with it at first; we didn’t have a specific goal. People just donated.”
There was no need for specific fundraising events; Maximiuk put the word out on Facebook and in The Journal, and “people just got hold of me and donated.” There was some money left over after the purchase of the bench, which was donated to the South Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society.
The site of the bench means a lot to Ed’s wife Barb. Shortly after the bench’s installation, in November 2015, she wrote a letter to the editor in which she said “I miss him every day, and now having a special place to sit and talk with him is wonderful.”
She sits on the bench on this warm spring day, her dog Ashley beside her. “I walk here all the time,” she says, as a cream-coloured moth flits silently by and the equipment on the field below hums along. “In summer I can sit here and watch soccer games. I love to watch soccer.”
Maximiuk is glad that Barb is able to sit there during her walks and think of Ed. “I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated. It’s nice to see people come together and do something positive; make something good come from something bad.”