A current city councillor who has also served the community as an MLA and as the mayor as honoured for his life of public service by the Seniors Advocacy Centre Thursday.
Don Cody was chosen as the centre’s 2019 recipient of the 70 plus and still going strong award. Past recipients include Bishop Albert Thevenot and advocate and volunteer Eleanor George.
“It’s kind of a senior citizen of the year award,” explained Seniors Advocacy Centre executive director John Fryters.
“He is a man who has really worked hard in his community as a public servant. I think he was a good choice to go on that wall.”
As the 2019 winner, Cody received an Award of Merit from the city, presented by Mayor Greg Dionne. He will also have his name added to the wall celebrating past winners.
Cody, who was invited to speak at the annual luncheon, was completely caught off guard by the award.
“What a surprise,” he said. “It was the first I remotely heard about anything like this. I didn’t know anything about the plaque or the honour they bestowed upon me, which is great.”
In addition to serving the community for many years as an elected politician, Cody has been a board member of the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA), a board member of SGI and the president of Club Waldorf, the German-Canadian club in Prince Albert.
Cody was chosen “for his tireless work as a public servant … even way beyond the (provincial) mandatory retirement age,” Fryters said, “for his support in and to countless service organizations in the province of Saskatchewan. For his listening ear and for being a real sounding board for so many in our city and beyond. I think he is a good choice. He deserves it.”
“I’m very pleased to have Don with me on council,” he said, describing Cody as the best-dressed politician in Saskatchewan.
“I want to thank Don for being one of my favourite mentors.”
During his speech, Cody spoke about the importance of staying engaged and active and supporting one another. He spoke of a brochure he picked up at a recent SUMA meeting.
“It says that seniors should be valued, included, supported and connected,” he said.
“Of course you should be valued — you’re the people who started this country. Look at this great city you have, look at the province we have. Look at the nation we have. You are the nation builders, You should be proud of it, and I know that you are.”
Then he turned to topics like inclusion and connectedness.
“How do we include people? By including them in every walk of life. We should take them with us from time to time,” he said, to places like the store, to church or to the bingo hall.
“Those are the kinds of things we need to do to include them.”
That inclusion is in itself a way of supporting others, Cody continued.
“We should always visit a lonely senior every once in a while, and seniors should get together.”
To Cody, that tied into the topic of connectedness.
“We can’t leave people sitting out and alone on their own. There is nothing worse than being socially isolated,” he said.
“One of the things you always should keep in mind is, try to connect with one of your friends and neighbours as often as you can. Almost every day. If you don’t you become lonely … and won’t get out and meet (people). That’s not good for you and it’s not good for the rest.
“We should continue doing as best we can with each other. Connect. Talk to each other. Keep each other company, and I think if we all do that we’ll have a better life.”
In addition to connecting with each other and keeping each other company, Cody stressed the importance of laughter and fun.
“When you get up in the morning, look in the mirror and have a laugh,” he said.
“Not because you look funny, but because of the fact that every person needs to laugh once or twice or three or four times per day. Laughter is one of the best physical things you should do. You should continue to laugh.”
As for what’s next for him, Cody wouldn’t say. He joked about running for council again in 2020 when he will be 84. It’s a possibility he didn’t rule out.
“I’ll probably never quit enjoying politics,” he said.
“It’s a thing that’s in your blood. I enjoy it. I’ve certainly had a long career at ti, and I’m not quite done yet.”
Cody mentioned that age hasn’t stopped other older adults, such as former Mississauga Ont. Mayor ‘Hurricane’ Hazel McCallion, from continuing their careers in public service. McCallion, who is still active in public life as chancellor of Sheridan College at the age of 98, served 12 consecutive terms as mayor, beginning her final tenure when she was 89 years old.
“Who knows if I’ll run again or not, but I’ll certainly stay involved,” Cody said.
“Ther’s still room.”