Longtime Prince George volunteer Sylvia (nee Allen) Cooney is turning 93 this month. Sylvia has lived in Prince George for 60 years and during that time she has given back to her community many times over.
Sylvia Allen was born in Edmonton in 1927. She moved to Vancouver in 1945, met her husband Bud Cooney and got married in 1961.
After high school she worked for an electrical contracting company in Vancouver for 17 years. Through her many electrical supply contacts, she happened to be talking to Henry Horsman, the owner of EB Horsman & Son in Prince George and he offered her a job with his company. She discussed it with Bud and he agreed that it would be a good idea to take the job offer.
It just so happened that Bud was the salesman for the Moore Dry Kiln Company and they had just offered him a transfer to Prince George. The newlyweds moved to Prince George in 1961 with the intention of only staying here for five years.
Years went by and Sylvia went to work for Hub City Motors.
Bud sold dry kilns to the lumber industry until he went into a partnership and started Payless Surplus on First Avenue and Dominion Street. Sylvia left Hub City Motors and worked with Bud as the bookkeeper until they sold the business in the mid-1980s.
When Sylvia was 56, she applied for a job at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and worked as a teller for the next 19 years. She retired at the age of 75. Back then, CIBC had to get written permission annually from their head office in Toronto to retain employees still working for the bank who were over the age of 65.
Sylvia said, "I enjoyed the work and I wanted to keep right on working. I held my breath each year until the bank had their written permission to keep me on staff."
Bud passed away in 2002 as a result of a heart attack after 41 years of a good marriage.
Sylvia proudly looks back at her nearly 40 years of volunteer work with the Prince George White Cane Club holding the position as their bookkeeper.
She was active for more than 20 years with the Good Cheer Club – a club where everyone cared for one another and worked hard together to raise funds for local causes.
She volunteered many years with the Prince George Community Foundation's annual fundraising golf tournament and assisted as a greeter during their award ceremony events.
Her friends know her as a very social person and always the comedian with her great sense of humour.
Sylvia now resides at the Rainbow Lodge and when she is up to it, she spends time tending the plants in the flower garden.
There is currently a visitor restriction policy - due to the COVID-19 virus - in place at the facility and for now the only way to contact Sylvia is by telephone. If you phone, be sure to leave your phone number so that she can always call you back.
Happy birthday, my friend.