Bradley Ney, right, stands by a statue of his grandfather, Frank Ney, at Maffeo Sutton Park on Saturday. Bradley was one of dozens of people who turned out to celebrate what would have been the former mayor’s 100th birthday. (Nicholas Pescod/News Bulletin)

Community holds birthday bash for former Nanaimo mayor

Nanaimo pays tribute to Frank Ney on what would have been his 100th birthday

Young and old came out to celebrate a former mayor who used bathtub racing and pirate costumes to help put Nanaimo on the map decades ago.

At least 80 people attended a special event honouring former Nanaimo mayor Frank Ney’s 100th birthday on Saturday morning at Maffeo Sutton Park.

Hosted and organized by the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society and Ney’s family, the event featured speeches from local politicians, cake and songs and was an opportunity for people to not only celebrate what would have been Ney’s 100th birthday, but also his legacy and life.

Born in 1918, Ney was the mayor of Nanaimo from 1968 until 1984 and from 1986 until 1990. Ney also served as a member of the legislative assembly, representing Nanaimo from 1969 until 1972.

During his time as mayor, Ney became famous for his pirate costumes and ability to promote the city and was the first chairman and admiral of the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society, which established the annual bathtub race in the city.

He died from cancer in 1992.

Ney’s wife, Joyce MacMillan, told the crowd that it was a privilege to be a part of his life and that in the years she lived with him, she had never been happier.

“I think that most of us feel that he is here somewhere. I don’t think that there are words that can ever describe Frank,” she said. “I knew Frank for 10 years and lived with him for five and I don’t think I ever had such a happy time in my life and so I am happy that all of you came out to celebrate his birthday.”

Leonard Krog, Nanaimo MLA, said no one worked harder or played harder and enjoyed doing both more than the former mayor did.

“There is a lesson from Frank Ney’s life, working hard and playing hard and enjoying everything you do in life is what it is all about,” Krog said.

Ben Ney, Frank’s son, said it was a tremendous honour to see that so many people came out to celebrate his father’s life.

“I am sure my dad would be completely touched to know that people still remember him and think about him,” he said. “He did things that people will never forget and he probably did things that we will never know.”


nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

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