John Jeffery, who died Saturday, Jan. 19, was part of the committee that lobbied the government for official community status for Langley City.
Jeffery would go on to sit on the provisional city council that was appointed after incorporation in 1955.
The man integral to the City’s formation never ran for public office, because his father was a business licence inspector and John didn’t want to run into a conflict of interest.
Instead, he helped many community groups and committees. He was also invited to run for provincial politics but opted not to.
At his side the whole time while he was involved in the community, was his wife, Charmaine, whom he married in 1950. He is survived by his wife, their son Bryce, his wife Marianne and John’s grandchildren Coralie, Tiffany and Thomas.
John’s father came out from Saskatchewan at the encouragement of his sister and her husband, E.J. Cox. Cox founded the Langley Advance.
“John used to help out at the Langley Advance,” Bryce explained.
He was also a Vancouver Sun reporter, working under then editor Pierre Berton in the late 1940s.
“Dad was a good writer,” Bryce commented.
John had served in the RCAF during the Second World War.
Mayor Peter Fassbender spoke of Jeffery’s passing at the Jan. 21 council meeting. Jeffery was 91.
“John was instrumental in the formation of the City of Langley,” the mayor said.
Langley City came about because the small urban area, known as Langley Prairie, was taxed by the Municipality of Langley but was not receiving adequate services such as sewer, water or street lighting.
In 1951, residents of the area called for incorporation, an idea that had been around since before 1940. An incorporation committee, which included John, was struck.
A 1952 petition for incorporation received widespread support from Langley Prairie residents.
After the province passed Bill 72, the government insisted on a vote confirming residents’ desire for a separate municipality and the vote was more than 90 per cent in favour.
“He was one of the pioneers in getting the boundaries of the community created,” said Councillor Gayle Martin. “Throughout the years he’s been quite a supporter of the City.”
Over the years, John had also been president of groups such as the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 21, the Langley Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Langley Red Cross, the Langley Amateur Athletic Association, and vice president of the Langley Board of Trade as well as other provincial and local efforts.
“The pride of his community involvement was the relationship with the creation and the continuation of the City of Langley,” Bryce said.
John Jeffery was integral to many key land decisions in the downtown, such as the creation of Douglas Park and a foot corridor that would become McBurney Lane.
John told the large crowd at the annual City Volunteer Banquet for the Freedom of the City ceremony back in 2008 that it was love at first sight with the place that would be his longtime home.
“It was on a Friday afternoon in August of 1931 when my father drove our old Graham Paige... a big old car, down Yale Road, which you now, of course, call Fraser Highway, with my mother and myself, a 10-year-old excited kid,” John said. “I immediately fell in love with my new home, an affection that has never left me.”
The family will have private services.