During his 50 years in Prince George, Rev. Lance Morgan epitomized the Prince George experience.
When he arrived in 1962, it's unlikely he imagined it would be his last stop, just like so many who come and never leave because they've realized they've found their home.
Like so many before and since, Morgan came for the adventure, to make a name for himself, to make a difference in a young and vibrant community because he was also young and vibrant.
Like so many before and since, early adversity was an opportunity, not an obstacle.
As Valerie Giles explains in her column on this page, he came to a church in Prince George where the building was falling apart and he didn't need all of the fingers on both hands to count the number of parishioners.
By the time he retired in 1998, the new church he helped build has been expanded and renovated four times to accommodate the growth in the number of worshippers who came each Sunday to hear his sermons.
Even for non-believers, Morgan became their man of God, as a Freeman of the City and the city's honorary chaplain. There are couples together today because of Morgan's influence. For example, more than 30 years ago, Morgan introduced Bill Bond to a lovely, energetic young lady named Shirley.
Morgan's touch in the community continued well into his retirement.
When it was time for the community to stand up for better health care in Prince George and across the north, Morgan was there. He was the emcee for the community rally in June 2000, when more than 7,000 residents crammed into the Multiplex.
"We can and will succeed at whatever we set out to do," Morgan told the crowd before they left that night. "With your help and commitment, things will turn around."
As always, Morgan's vision was right and the Northern Medical Program, housed in the Dr. Donald Rix Northern Health Sciences Centre at UNBC, is a testament to that.
When Bob Harkins, another great city builder, died in 2000, Morgan helped lead the service for about 1,000 mourners at the Civic Centre.
When a longtime Prince George Citizen staffer died suddenly and tragically just three days after 9/11, it was Morgan who stood up with words of comfort and consolation.
While Morgan was family for members of the First Baptist Church, his influence extended so much further beyond the walls of that building on Fifth Avenue. For many years, Morgan was the first choice as the pastor to marry or bury in Prince George.
His incredible public speaking talent, honed from a young age listening to his own father, also a preacher, combined with his humility, endeared him to all.
Looking forward, city council needs to dedicate a permanent public memorial for Morgan, as well as for Anne Martin, another Freeman of the City and community builder, who died late last year. We have all been blessed to share a city with people like Lance Morgan and Anne Martin. To rename a significant public place in honour of both of these special individuals would keep their important legacies alive forever.
The Lance Morgan Civic Centre has a nice ring to it.
So does the Anne Martin Playhouse.