Colleagues of a pilot killed when his plane crashed Monday morning recall a hard-working friend of the Elder Citizens Recreation Association.
Ben Guilliamse, 71, was killed when his Cessna 182 crashed into a marshy area near Boeing Road just after takeoff from the Prince George airport just after 7 a.m.
He was the only occupant in the plane.
“Ben was a very hard-working, committed person,” said Association treasurer Bev Christensen. “He was a fine man. (His death) is a loss to the elders centre and a loss to the community.”
Guilliamse served as the association’s treasurer from 1998 to 2000, and served recently on its policy and procedures committee to address the centre’s increased membership.
Christensen asked him to serve on the committee after reading about his work as treasurer in board minutes, said the centre’s office manager, who asked not to be named.
“He was meticulous,” she said. “That was the way he was. He was going to see that he did something to the point of perfection. It mattered to him that he turned in a good paper.”
Before signing on to the committee, he told other members he may not be available regularly in the summer, as he was taking on a new job flying supplies to Pelly Lake Lodge, about 250 kilometres north of Mackenzie.
As such, she said, he made sure his work was done last week.
Christensen said Guilliamse’s work on the committee was valuable, as he could draw upon his experiences with the association. He helped write job descriptions for three employees.
She first met Guilliamse as a reporter, when she interviewed him about his involvement with the Kiwanis Club. He was so interesting, she said, she remembered him years later.
“He had traveled a lot, he had lived in Holland and Curacao. He was very conscious of local and world affairs.
“He always had an opinion on things.”
The office manager credits Guilliamse with persuading her to install a computer at the centre in the mid-1990s, and teaching her to use it.
“I had never been on a computer, and I fought him a lot,” she said. “But he was very persistent. And as I’ve told him since, I don’t know what I would have done without it.”
Guilliamse also helped arrange the re-wiring of the centre’s telephone system, bringing new equipment to the centre to save staff the time.
Christensen said Guilliamse loved to fly, and said he must have kept himself in good shape to be allowed to continue at his age.
“He loved his job,” she said.
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, and said weather may have been a factor.
Guilliamse was given special clearance to take off as visibility was too bad for a normal clearance.
Airport general manager Stieg Hoeg said an investigation into the crash could take months.
“We won’t know what happened until then,” he said.