HEU says good-bye to activist

There are many fond memories of this kind-hearted and dedicated HEU member

Old-time HEU activists will recognize the name of Dennis Jeffrey who passed away on Friday, July 7 at Penticton Regional Hospital. Brother Jeffrey’s July 11 funeral was attended by his union colleagues who worked with him for many years as a member of bargaining committees or on the Provincial Executive.

Jeffrey started at Penticton Hospital in the mid 1970s, and he was involved with HEU for all the years he was there. He worked in the maintenance department at the hospital until his retirement in 1993.

Co-worker and HEU activist Barb Burke remembers Jeffrey for his laughter, his compassion, his dedication to the trade union movement and to his family. “He was always there to lend a hand and help out anyone who needed it,” says Burke. Those qualities made him a natural leader in his union.

Jeffrey was first elected to the PE in 1976. He served as regional vice president for the Okanagan region from 1976 to 1980. The membership subsequently elected him to other PE posts: 2nd vice president (1980-82), member-at-large #2 (1984-85), member-at-large #1 (1985-86), 4th vice president (1986-88) and 2nd vice president (1988-90).

HEU president Fred Muzin knew Jeffrey best from when they both worked on the PE, and he also held him in high regard. “He was just a kind-hearted person, was committed to HEU and its grassroots members. He was absolutely straightforward and principled in his approach,” he says.

He was on the Wage Policy Credentials, Resolutions or Bargaining Demands committees from as early as 1976 right through to 1981 — when he wasn’t sitting on the Provincial Executive, that is.

HEU members who attended convention and Wage Policy during that period will probably remember Jeffrey as the man who sat in the lobby, greeting people as they arrived — with either a handshake or a hug. He especially lent a helping hand to new delegates.

Jeffrey was most recently involved in the Penticton Regional Hospital Alumni as chair. It’s a type of watchdog organization, formed by retired workers from PRH, and it keeps the regional health board on its toes. He was also involved in CUPE National’s Save Medicare ambulance tour last February. “He was right there helping us to get the message out when I arrived in Pentiction for a campaign stop in February,” says Muzin.

Jeffrey will be greatly missed by his union family at PRH, his church family where he was also active and his immediate family: wife Marge and children Greg, Sandy, Lana and Darryl. We say good-bye to a wonderful family man, union activist and human being. Dennis believed he would go to a better place after this life, and he’s probably there right now, organizing something.