Memorial benches for noted Citizen photographer unveiled

With about 30 friends and colleagues looking on, two benches in memory of noted Prince George Citizen photographer Dave Mah were unveiled Wednesday at the entrance to CN Centre.

Mah died from a form of lung cancer in May 2016. He was 55 years old.

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He has been remembered as both a great photographer and simply someone who was a well-liked by many. Those sentiments continued to be echoed during the ceremony.

"He was a friend to everybody who met him," said Jason Peters, who worked alongside Mah for many years at the Citizen. "On a personal level and on a professional level, it was impossible to meet Dave and not come away with a smile on your face. He was just one of those people."

Citizen alumni Glen "Moose" Scott came up with the idea of benches at CN Centre because it was where Mah spent many of his nights. Others, notably Peters and Chuck Nisbett, a former Citizen photographer and pressman, rallied to the cause.

A fundraising campaign began in July. About 100 people donated and nearly double the amount needed was raised.

As a result, representatives of the Canadian Cancer Society and the BC Cancer Centre for the North to accept cheques worth $2,062.76 for each of their organizations.

"He was a guy who always stayed until he got the best possible shot he could get, whether it was at a birthday party, an anniversary, an event here at CN Centre, a photo of a police incident," Peters said.

Nisbett first crossed paths with Mah when was working at the old Prince George This Week, which had been a training ground for many Citizen photographers, reporters and sales people.

"The first thing he did was he came up to me and said 'are you the guy from the Citizen,' and I said 'yes,'" Nisbett said. "And he said 'good, show me what it's all about, teach me everything you've got,' and that's the way he was right to the very end.

"After 25 years of shooting at PG This Week and the Citizen, he was still trying new ways of doing things and trying to get that ultimate picture that told the whole story. And he did it all without being brash and jumping in front of people and bullying his way through. He did it by making friends with everybody...he just won everyone over."

Longtime Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond said she, her husband Bill and Mah spent "virtually every weekend together," as they went from event to event and they developed a close friendship over the years.

Among her most cherished mementos is a photo of the Bonds and Mah with the torch from the Canada Winter Games. It was taken after Mah, despite going through chemotherapy while staying with his parents in Calgary, had returned to Prince George in February 2015 to take photos of the event.

Mah was also familiar to Mayor Lyn Hall who expressed accolades both for his ability behind the camera and his endearing personality.

"Plain and simply put, he was just a nice guy, just an absolute nice guy and he was always interested in what you were doing," Hall said. "Even when he was busy, it was a quick 'hello, how are you doing? How's the family?'"

Mah "won't be forgotten," Hall said.

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