On the streets of Parksville Saturday, residents said there was a very noticeable person missing.
Larger than life “Flying Phil” St. Luke, whose huge smile and wave brightened the lives of thousands every day on his trek through Parksville, was gone, and his small city was grieving.
“Our city is suffering a great loss because our community relied on him to provide that spark of joy every day,” said Parksville Mayor Doug O’Brien.
The City of Parksville’s flag was lowered to half-mast as St. Luke was remembered with an outpouring of love following his death on Friday from cancer. He was 70.
Residents described St. Luke as “a legend” of a man who showed his community that his special needs were really a superpower.
“Just to be interactive with him was pretty incredible because he was so happy, and yeah, he would brighten your day. No matter what,” said Parksville resident Kelsey Aspholm.
“Oh, he would come in smiling, he was a light to all,” said Emma Hatcher, who works at Pacific Brimm Cafe, where St. Luke would often stop into.
“When my mom told me, I was devastated. I started bawling. He was a big inspiration to our entire town. Like even with everything that he was going through,” said Trinity Mahar, who also works at Pacific Brimm Cafe.
“Just a total embrace of everyone. So he was a special person,” said Mayor O’Brien, who coached St. Luke in Special Olympics and knew him for over 30 years.
“He loved living here, and that’s why he was an ambassador for Parksville. He said: ‘These are all my friends, this is all my family, and this is everything,’ and he was so boisterous about that,” said O’Brien.
“He will live on in our community. Definitely, he will,” added Hatcher.
Talks are underway to hold a large memorial service for Parksville’s public to honour the man whose life impacted so many.