The Sunshine Coast Foundation is grateful to have received a final gift from long-time Gibsons’ resident, Jon Hird, as a bequest in his will.
Jon was born in Australia in 1951, the youngest of three children. His parents were entrepreneurs in the hospitality and service sector. As a family they moved frequently, serving the needs of large crews in remote camps and small towns. Eventually they purchased their own hotel with a pub, where Jon acquired a fondness for beer, but also a strong work ethic as demonstrated by his parents.
Jon was rebellious in his youth. He was exceptionally bright and became frustrated with all the moves, which led to him getting into some trouble. A strong community member recognized his energy, intelligence, and potential and intervened, suggesting to Jon and his parents that joining the Australian Royal Navy would challenge him and broaden his horizons. Jon completed a five year apprenticeship, graduating as a Royal Navy Artificer, today more commonly known as an Engineering Technician. He understood that this was a life-changing event and he forever appreciated the opportunities this provided to him.
Shortly after leaving the Navy, Jon set his sights on moving to Canada. Young and liberated from the discipline of Navy life, he enjoyed carefree years in Vancouver, exploring a variety of jobs, new interests, and friends. Jon's love of music led him to the Vancouver Folk Festival. After attending one of the very first festivals, he observed several oversights that had been made by both Park officials and the Folk Festival organizers. He shared his concerns and observations, which were gratefully received. As a result, Jon was engaged as a volunteer to design and implement these modifications. His commitment led to guidelines and standards that remain in place today.
In his mid-30’s Jon began to think more about becoming settled and focusing on his future. He purchased a lot in Gibsons in 1989 and commuted from Vancouver to Gibsons over the next 2-3 years to work on the design and completion of his house. He was immensely proud of this accomplishment and appreciated living near the ocean with the beauty and natural surroundings that became his home for the next 30 years.
Jon quickly integrated into his new community, where he made life-long friends and generously gave of his time. Throughout the years, Jon volunteered with the food bank, the legion, the Jazz Festival, and the Sea Cavalcade. Jon had a keen interest in maritime history and served for several years on the Board of the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives. Jon also spearheaded Sunday outings with a small group of children and parents, picking up garbage on roadsides throughout Gibsons.
Jon believed that good rules and safety were important, and he was probably best known for his commitment to Speed Watch. In 2018, Jon was recognized by the R.C.M.P. and the community for a decade of volunteering with Speed Watch and his diligence with maintenance of signage and equipment.
Jon became sick in the summer of 2017. He wanted to simplify his life as much as he could before his passing. Always inspired by making a difference, he found ways to amplify his life knowing it was going to end. He sold his home and rented it back from the purchaser. He also arranged in his will to gift the proceeds of his home to organizations that were important to him.
The Sunshine Coast Foundation is one of the organizations that benefited from Jon’s selflessness. Jon heard about the Community Foundation from a close friend, who was also a caregiver to Jon during his illness. Jon cared deeply for his chosen community and he felt privileged to be able to give back. He was drawn to the values of the Sunshine Coast Foundation and he saw an opportunity to provide a gift that would be meaningful and sustainable on a local level. We are honoured to be a part of Jon’s generous legacy to our community.