Having poured so much time and energy into the Terrace River Kings and Royal Canadian Legion, Ray Hallock says he leaves town happy and has benefited as much from his service as he gave.
The involvement gave him purpose and something to focus on as he has worked through a major brain injury, which left him on life support for six weeks and unsure if he would ever fully recover his brain and body functioning.
But since then Hallock has helped found and manage the River Kings since it started in 2004. He also helped build up the Legion and served as treasurer for eight years, and vice-president and president each for three years.
Now at age 65, Hallock and his wife Bernadette left Terrace on Nov. 1, bound for a new home in Clark’s Harbour, Nova Scotia, a village of just over 800 people.
Hallock says they had no intention of moving, but vacationed there in September and liked the area so much, they decided to buy and move.
“It is just too beautiful a spot to pass up,” he said, adding that the property they found was ocean front on the harbour and had its own dock.
His wife Bernadette is bilingual and originally from New Brunswick, so Hallock said the place is like a dream come true for both of them.
Leaving his position as a technical support analyst at Northern Health Authority, Hallock says he plans to continue work in a technology-based field, likely as his own consultant.
He is also transferring his membership to a small legion there and is planning to get involved in a baseball team or something, he said.
Hallock was born in Prince Rupert but raised in Terrace and though he left as a youth, he came back to the area on and off as most of his family lived here.
In 1993, Hallock got in a serious car accident in Alberta.
“I wasn’t expected to survive,” he said.
On life-support for six weeks in Edmonton, Hallock had multiple surgeries and was diagnosed with a serious brain injury which has left lasting damage on his optic nerve.
He was released to his parents for rehab a few months later, but rehab never happened, as the detail got lost in the chaos of a doctor strike which was happening at the time.
His parents brought him to Terrace and he began his own rehab.
“My mom had me lifting soup cans and my dad had me walking around the yard pushing a fertilizer spreader,” he said. “Believe me, it’s tough…just to walk across the yard I would have to stop three times and take a break.”
It took a year for Hallock to learn to walk and talk again, and he says those were dark days. “I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I didn’t know that I was ever going to be a viable person again,” he said.
During his recovery, he said there were times he didn’t know if he was normal or not, whether he was perceiving things right or acting normal.
Hallock says his saving grace was a doctor who gave him a test that ignited hope for his recovery, showing that his cognitive ability was still very strong.
But Hallock says it was more than the test that helped him recover: The River Kings and Terrace Legion also played a role.
“It gave me focus, gave me something to do, gave me a place to learn new things and re-learn old things,” he said.
Hallock says his nephew Jason Johnson and Kitimat goalie Burny Carlsen came to him for help starting a Terrace hockey team, since he had background in writing and online design work.
The three of them, with support from many others, got approval from the city and league and launched the team in 2004.
Coach Rob Findlay says for many years Hallock has looked after all the details of organizing trips and games, and he is also the team’s most loyal fan.
“He’s been the heart and soul of our team, he’s always been there… The guys really like Ray, he is always fun to go out of town with,” said Findlay.
“The guys will really miss him, we’ll all miss him. He’s helped the team be where it is and get to where it is now.”
Doug Richey, previous coach, agrees, adding that up until now, Hallock has done “pretty much everything for the team,” from bookings, insurance, and paperwork to singing “Oh Canada.”
“He’s a really big part of that team, and they’ll need two or three to replace him,” he said.
Hallock has also been very involved in the legion.
During his recovery, Hallock says his dad brought him to a meeting hoping that it might help, and that night Hallock was elected as treasurer.
He says one way he helped the legion was securing grants and boosting finances by bringing the River Kings team there after games.
Brian Kirkaldy, legion manager and treasurer, says Hallock did a great job as treasurer, and took the finance department into the new age.
He also developed a new membership program, digital and user friendly, which is now used by legion branches across B.C. and in the Yukon.
“Ray has got a big heart and put a lot of time and effort into the legion,” Kirkaldy said, adding that there are many volunteers who have put in decades of work there.
Mary Ann Misfeldt adds that he also brought younger members into the legion.
Hallock says he is happy with the legacy that he has left in Terrace.
“I’m leaving town proud. I’ve had some great accomplishments, and I’m sure there will be people who will remember me fondly,” he said.