Philanthropist leaves legacy

How will we be remembered and who will remember us when we are gone?

To the Editor,

Re: Philanthropist dies at 92, April 22.

Leaving a legacy is a question I think many of us grapple with. How will we be remembered and who will remember us when we are gone?

Last week when the headlines announced Sidney Sharman had passed away, I couldn’t help but wonder if people would understand the profound effect he had, and will continue to have, because of his willingness to give.

I had the pleasure and honour of getting to know Sid personally, because of his generous support of Vancouver Island University students. I also had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the powerful legacy he created through his generosity.

I spoke to nursing students who had received scholarships funded by Sid, who told me they would not have been able to continue in their studies without his support. Some of those students are now working in hospitals on the Island, touching the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people. Those scholarships are funded through an endowment which ensures they will continue even though Sid has now passed.

I’ve also spoken to students in VIU’s Health and Human Services programs who are today training in a state-of-the-art nursing simulation lab, which was also funded in part by Sid. Those students will now be even better prepared to enter their chosen profession.

When I reflect on what Sid is leaving behind, it’s clear that his is a legacy to aspire to, an example of how an act of generosity can affect so many people, sometimes in unexpected and far-reaching ways. By giving to VIU students he not only changed their lives but the lives of the people those students will go on to care for.

He will be sorely missed. However, I know that Sid’s legacy is one that will live on, and be a lasting reminder to all of us that a generous spirit has the power to truly change someone’s life.

Ralph Nilson
president
Vancouver Island University

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