Another pillar of the Cloverdale community has died.
Ben Wevers recently passed away, just a few short weeks after Bruno Zappone died.
Wevers was a longtime volunteer and both a Cloverdale and Surrey advocate. He was also a past president of the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce (2002-2008).
Executive director Scott Wheatley said the Chamber was saddened by the loss.
“We have lost a true Cloverdale icon,” said Wheatley. “Ben was a Chamber president, executive director, volunteer, Cloverdale ambassador and so much more.”
Wheatley said Wevers was a real go-getter. He did whatever was needed to do to get any job done.
“In part, it is thanks to Ben that Cloverdale has become the amazing town it is today,” Wheatley said. “One of his more notable contributions was making Cloverdale a top destination in the film industry, which has continued to benefit local business and the community in numerous ways.”
Wheatley said Wevers will be best remembered for his big hugs, charisma, endless stories, and a memorable laugh.
“He was a remarkable man who will be greatly missed by both the Chamber and Cloverdale.”
Cheryl White, membership and events coordinator for the Chamber, knew Wevers well, having worked with him in the car rental industry for years.
“You meet very few people like Ben,” said White. “He had a kind heart and a big smile and was always willing to help out where he could. I think a lot of people are heartbroken today, in the community, because he touched so many.”
White also said Wevers was instrumental in helping to get Cloverdale going as a destination for feature film and television show productions.
“He helped to make it happen,” said White. “Had he not been here as it got going, I’m not sure where it would’ve gone.”
White said Wevers had a lot of connections and helped production companies hit the ground running once they arrived to film.
At the time Wevers worked for Budget, before moving on to Driving Force, and he generated contracts to supply much-needed vehicles to the film crews. But his film industry support soon morphed into more than just supplying cars and trucks. Wevers soon began showing location scouts around and he started rolling out the red carpet for other industry leaders and insiders—a move that generated more shoots for Cloverdale, firmly cementing the town as a top-notch film spot.
White said he was a cheerleader with charm and as it rubbed off, more and more production companies wanted to come out to Cloverdale after experiencing some of Wevers welcoming magic.
“He literally became the backbone for logistics for the film industry in Cloverdale,” added Paul Orazietti, executive director of the Cloverdale BIA. “He was very helpful in growing all of that.”
Orazietti said Wevers used to run a farmers’ market (where the Museum of Surrey is now); he helped start up the Ladner market; he was a co-founder, along with Bill Ried and Orazietti, of Surrey Tourism; he was the first president of the Surrey Heritage Society; he worked as a sponsor of the Rodeo; he was the assistant organizer for the Surrey Santa Parade of Lights; and helped the Chamber and BIA with other events: car shows, blueberry festivals, country festivals, Halloween events, and many things.
In memory of one @CityofSurrey 's Goodwill ambassadors, past Cloverdale Chamber prez, @CloverdaleRodeo volunteer, @DiscoverSurrey director and much more Ben Wevers. @CloverdaleCOC @CloverdaleNews @IATSE891 @creativebcs @SBofT @sswrchamber @deltachamber pic.twitter.com/00e8DkeZFZ
— Paul Orazietti (@Paradeguy) July 19, 2021
“He really went out of his way to break down barriers,” said Orazietti. “He worked with other Chambers to get things done.”
Orazietti said when Wevers came to Cloverdale, he fell in love with the area and became great friends with everyone, including Cloverdale’s unofficial mayor, Bill Reid.
“He became part of the inner circle,” Orazietti added. “The inner circle had a few senior people who spent a lot of time talking about the town, literally every other day at the corporate cafeteria—we used to have lunch at the Golden Medal—and (Wevers) tried to make things happen, not get in the way of them.”
Orazietti said Wevers was a man of positivity. He rarely showed a negative emotion.
“He was always a great ambassador. He loved people. He loved events. He loved kids. So whatever we did, he was in.”
Orazietti said Wevers was part of the fabric of the community. “He had a super-vested interest in Cloverdale and he went out of his way to make things better.”
Because of all that he did, Orazietti said the BIA and Chamber want to acknowledge Wevers in some way.
“We want to recognize what he’s done,” noted Orazietti. “Part of that requires some time. We all have to think about it. Because we want to do something that has a bit of a legacy—something that will last. He was a goodwill ambassador not only for Cloverdale but for all of Surrey.”
Wevers was active in the community up until a couple of years ago when he began to suffer from some health issues.
Wevers was born in Holland on June 30, 1941. His family—parents and 13 kids (six boys, seven girls)— immigrated to Canada in 1951. The Wevers settled in Lethbridge for several years before coming west to Cloverdale in the late ’60s.
Wevers passed away July 18 in Surrey while in palliative care. He was 80.