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Volunteer Week: George Garrett dedicated his life to helping others

Garrett was one of three founders of the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society.
George Garrett was one of three founders of the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society. Optimist file photo

As an investigative journalist with CKNW, George Garrett was tenacious, driven, and passionate.

Yet even though he asked the tough questions, the people he interviewed always knew that they could trust him, says one of the young journalists he mentored.

Garrett died of cancer at the age of 89 at a Surrey hospice on March 18, 2024.

“He was kind, he was generous, and he was giving,” says Marlyn Graziano, remembering how Garrett took her under his wing when she started as a cub reporter at what was then South Delta Today. Back then she was a recent journalism grad with a young baby; today she is continuing the role he established as “chief fundraiser” with the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society.

“Even in the later years you had to run to keep up with him,” she told the Optimist the day after attending his celebration of life. “If he had a plan, he was going to work the plan and was off out the door. But if you ever said, ‘Hey, can we talk?’, he always made the time for you.”

What struck her the most at the celebration of life were his family’s stories about how he was always there for them, too.

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, he did it all. He had excellence in journalism, commitments to his community and commitments to his family.’ A lot of people don’t necessarily get to tick all three boxes, but he did. He’s just left an incredible legacy in all areas.”

Garrett was one of three founders of the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society. In a video he talks of meeting an older woman who had to take public transit to her cancer appointments.

“With the two other founders he said ‘Having cancer is bad enough. It’s not right that some cancer patients would find it difficult or perhaps even impossible to get to their appointments.”

Put in charge of raising the money to set up the society, Graziano says Garrett took out his Rolodex and started calling his many contacts.

As a former prairie girl, Graziano can relate to Garrett’s family’s stories of how he was shaped by his childhood in a farming community in Saskatchewan in the Dirty Thirties.

“It’s that kind of small town, prairie, everyone-helps-everybody-when-they-need-it mindset.”

Graziano is very grateful that the family has asked people to make In Memoriam donations to the society in lieu of flowers.

“I’ve noticed that we’ve already started receiving gifts, so George is still fundraising even though he left us.”