Public funeral service scheduled for long-serving Okotoks mayor

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Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson passed away earlier this month and touched the lives of many in the small town and beyond. (Submitted by the Town of Okotoks - image credit)
Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson passed away earlier this month and touched the lives of many in the small town and beyond. (Submitted by the Town of Okotoks - image credit)

A public funeral service is scheduled in Okotoks on Saturday for the town's long-serving mayor, Bill Robertson.

Robertson died on July 7 after a battle with cancer.

He was a popular elementary school teacher in the town for more than three decades before his 25 years in local politics.

Robertson was elected as a councillor in 1995 and served until 2010 when he became mayor.

Okotoks councillor Matt Rockley worked with Robertson on council and was also a pupil of the former teacher in the sixth grade.

"Bill was a person very well-liked and well-loved by people who knew him. His death has been tragic for the entire community," Rockley said.

"He taught many people as a teacher here. The first time I got to know him was as a student and he was a larger-than-life personality and one of the favourite teachers for everybody."

Rockley said Robertson always went above and beyond to care for people and make them feel good about themselves.

"He was a gem of a human being," he said. "The world has lost a good one."

'Even at work, he was playing'

Another councillor who worked with Robertson for many years, Ed Sands, said Robertson kept his illness to himself for the most part, until it became hard to hide.

"Zoom meetings were a blessing, because he could do them from home and you don't look as unwell on camera, but one meeting he had to leave and we never saw him in a meeting after that," Sands said.

He described Robertson as generous with a good sense of humour and eternally positive.

"As a [physical education] teacher he always had a tracksuit on, a whistle around his neck and was always bouncing a ball," Sands said. "Even at work, he was playing."

Sands said he was later a diligent councillor and mayor who took the Okotoks brand around the world, even flying the Canadian and Okotoks flags on vacations in Asia and South America, handing out pin badges to anyone who'd take one.

"He was a town promoter," Sands said. "He brought his flags and he had them flying on a boat on a river cruise in the Mekong and another trip in Peru.

"He was just so positive. This shouldn't have happened to a guy like that."

A public funeral service takes place on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the town's Foothills Centennial Centre before a private service later in the afternoon.

Doors will open at 12:15 p.m.

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