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Art Benzer: Volunteer’s efforts celebrated

The community of Montrose will be saluting Art Benzer Thursday when he’s honoured for his years of dedication to volunteering.

The community of Montrose will be saluting longtime resident Art Benzer Thursday when he’s honoured for his years of dedication to volunteering.

And what better setting to celebrate the 76-year-old man then among like-minded people at the village’s annual volunteer wine and cheese, where those who benefit the community are invited for a night of appreciation.

The man who spent nine years in politics and the same as a volunteer fire fighter has been selected as the 2014 Montrose Community Service Award winner.

Benzer is known for his long teaching career at J. L. Crowe Secondary School that started in his mid 20s when he moved to Montrose in 1962 with his wife Gail to run the electrical department at Crowe, where he also taught math, science and drafting to fill out his timetable.

From 1964-1971, he took on electrical apprentices through night school, which led to an exciting opportunity overseas in that final year. Through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) he went on to teach at a technical training college in Malaysia, where he first showed students the trade and then the tools to teach others.

Two years later, he and his family came back to Montrose for a short year before heading back to Asia — this time to finish up a program for CIDA in Singapore for a year.

By 1974, it was home sweet home for Benzer, who taught junior mathematics and drafting at Crowe until 1994 when he retired.

He has fond memories of his teaching career and never regrets staying in the village over the years, though other opportunities were presented.

“I think it’s a good area; Montrose is a great place for kids to grow up,” he said.

Benzer continues to make his community proud with his commitment to volunteering as a director of the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society, an executive of the Retired Teachers Association and an executive of the Kootenay Columbia Education Heritage Society, which looks to preserve teaching antiques.

Not to mention, his passion for the great outdoors has kept him committed to the development of the village’s Antenna Trail over the years.

There may be a moment of reflection when Benzer leads yet another hike up the popular trail Saturday at 8 a.m. during Montrose Family Fun Days.

“Art is an amazing man who volunteers quietly on his own,” Montrose Coun. Cindy Cook told the Times of her nomination for the annual award doled out since 1984. “It’s people like him that we want recognize.”

His name will be added to a plaque in the village office and a photo of him will be hung on a board at the community hall.

Benzer will be formerly recognized at an invitation-only wine and cheese Thursday at the community hall.