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Knights get it right by selecting Bruce Halstead as Nelson's Citizen of the Year

Bruce Fuhr
By Bruce Fuhr
March 26th, 2012

Bruce Halstead is not your typical run to the spotlight kind of guy — although he does kind of shine during the Christmas season when he slips on in his red suit and white beard to raise money for the Kootenay chapter of the Romanian Relief Organization Canada.

No this Calgary native chooses to do his shining in the background.

Which is probably why his nomination papers flowed to the top of the judge’s pile during the 2012 Knights of Columbus Citizen of the Year.

“This year the Nelson Knights of Columbus are pleased to announce that Bruce Halstead has been selected as Nelson’s 2012 Citizen of the Year,” Knights of Columbus head of communications Adam Kowalyshyn announced last week.

“Bruce is the 48th candidate since the first presentation in 1964.”

The 71-year-old Halstead, who joins the likes of Alan Ramsden, Al Craft, Frances Welwood, inaugural winner Helen Morris and 2011 recipient Bill McDonnell, is rather overwhelmed with the honour.

“I’m deeply honoured . . . this is a very humbling experience,” Halstead told The Nelson Daily from his home on the North Shore.

“When you look at all those previous winners and what they’ve done this is quite and honour.”

Born in Calgary, Halstead got into public service with the Calgary Police Department.

He later moved over to the Calgary Fire Department before heading west to B.C.’s provincial capital, spending time once again as a policeman with Victoria Police Department.

Halstead, married to wife Sherri, then joined the Nelson Police Department, committing 22 years to the Heritage City force before retiring from the force in 2000.

It was during his time in Nelson that Halstead really went to town on the volunteer circuit.

There’s the Lion’s Club.

Eagles member. Forester. Rod and Gun, Ducks Unlimited, Baptist Church . . . and so on, and so on.

But where Halstead really cut his teeth came after trip to Europe.

After returning he started the Kootenay chapter of the Romanian Relief Organization Canada and for the past 21 years has helped raise public awareness and funds for the children of Romania.

“Just travel to the other side of the world to see the poverty in other countries and you couldn’t help but want to help out,” Halstead, who adopted two children from Romania, 21-year-old Matthew and 18-year-old Melinda.

It was that inaugural trip more than two-decades ago that Halstead decided to create the Kootenay chapter of the Romanian Relief Organization Canada.

The local chapter will send its 11th container to the European country to help orphans, elderly and poor families in the near future.

To fill a container takes eight to 12 months of fundraising and acquiring items from donations. But when the container arrives it helps up to 10,000 people.

“We go over and distribute food and clothing to mostly gypsy families who have nothing,” said Halstead, who has been to Romania 31 times, including a stint that rebuilt an entire orphanage in Campulung located in the south, central part of Romania.

Halstead joins Knights of Columbus members as well as the general public at the Citizen of the Year banquet, April 21 at Catholic Community Centre in St. Joseph’s School.

Tickets for the April banquet, for $30 each, are on sale at Sonja’s China Cabinet.

This will be the second banquet is as many weeks a member of the Halstead family is being honoured.

In Calgary, Halstead’s brother Dennis is being recognized with the Art Smith Humanitarian Award for his years of helping the community by running a soup kitchen from the basement of his home.

“We were brought up that way,” Halstead explained. “My family was always a part of the community and that a community doesn’t stop at its boundaries.

“My parents were like that and we (as kids) just followed in their footsteps.”

It’s a good thing Bruce Halstead shuns the limelight.

The reason?

With all the volunteer time he puts in, this retired police officer would have little time for interviews.

Categories: General

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