Sowing the seeds of hope

When Richard (Rick) Charles retired from RBC, one of the things he did was become a rosarian – a cultivator of roses – a passion that he inherited from his grandfather, who was a well known Vancouver rosarian.

Since Rick’s passing, his daughter Deborah now cares for the garden her father started. The garden he created now contains some 60 bushes of roses.

The metaphor of continuing a family tradition for future generations is an apt one, as Rick has remembered Family Services in his will with a $25,000 gift, which is to be endowed for the future needs of the organization.

“Rick’s gift has planted a seed for Family Services,” says Caroline Bonesky, CEO of Family Services. “As the endowment grows, so will our ability to create brighter tomorrows for vulnerable youth, adults and families in our community.”

Rick has a long history with Family Services. He served on the board of directors for six years, from 1988 to 1994, and founded an annual golf tournament called “For the good of families and the glory of golf.”

“He was instrumental in gaining sponsorship from RBC for the golf tournament which we held for several years,” says former executive director Barbara Brett. “That tournament earned significant funds which went to the agency endowment fund at the Vancouver Foundation.”

“Rick was deeply influenced by his father, and I think it was ingrained in him that you give back,” says Patricia Charles, Rick’s wife.

“It was important to him to give back in some way to the community. For him to have remembered Family Services tells me he really valued the people and time he spent there and what the organization was doing. It meant a lot to him.”

Rick also felt the same way about the other two organizations he remembered in his will – the Vancouver Art Gallery and The Marion and Gordon Smith Foundation, which supports the North Vancouver School District’s Artists for Kids program.

“He’s always been interested in art, from a young age,” says Pat.

Whenever they travelled, a highlight of the trip was visiting art galleries in cities around the world.

“He took up painting on the only cruise we went on,” she says laughing. “It was a long cruise – 38 days – which was so typical of Rick. Don’t take a two week cruise to see if you like it, he was go big or go home!”

He took some water colour classes on that cruise and then set up a little studio for himself in the garage of Rick and Pat’s home on the Sunshine Coast. Rick would occasionally visit B.C. artist Gordon Smith’s studio in West Vancouver where Gordon gave him a few pointers on Rick’s work.

“All of these organizations will benefit from Rick’s generosity, now and into the future,” says Caroline. “His gifts reflect his passions and values and speaks to his foresight and vision. We are very grateful to Rick and his family.”

“He was an energetic and optimistic board member,” says Barbara. “I was deeply saddened to hear of his death. He was a wonderful man.”