Beloved former Port McNeill mayor, Gerry Furney, passed away early Monday morning at the age of 85.

An elected official for 46 years and Port McNeill mayor for 39 years, Furney is remembered fondly by the northern Vancouver Island community he served.

“It is with heavy hearts today we are informing you of the passing of former Mayor Gerry Furney,” reads the town’s official Facebook page. “In the early hours of Feb 4th, Gerry left his earthly home of Port McNeill surrounded by his family.”

“He was a man larger than life, approachable and kind; a community leader. He was such an integral part of Port McNeill’s history, it’s hard to imagine him not seated at the coffee shop window, chatting and smiling at passers by. Our hearts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”

One for the community

Furney first moved from Ireland to Port McNeill in 1956. Ten years later, he would go on to serve as a town councillor for seven years. After serving as a councillor he was elected mayor for nearly 40 years, winning every term save for one until he retired. He concluded his service in 2014 at the age of 81.

“He always had an open door policy for everybody and that spread to other councillors and the community,” said Port McNeill mayor Gaby Wickstrom. “He especially had time for children.”

Wickstrom told Victoria Buzz that you could often find Furney watching his grandchildren at hockey games and recitals, and sitting with his friends at the same coffee shop every day at 10 o’clock. She also said he had an uncanny skill for estimating how many people were in a crowd.

“If you ever wanted to know how many people were in a crowd, Jerry could tell with high accuracy,” she said. In his younger years, Furney was actually paid to assess how many people went to a concert or event.

“Any time we went to verify the numbers Gerry was accurate within a handful of people.”

When asked about Furney’s Irish roots, Wickstrom said that “he took that flair and that charm to everything he did to make the community a better place.”

Furney is survived by his wife, Carmel, his two children, Lisa and James, and multiple grandchildren.

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