It’s been said many times that Cliff Annable had an impact on countless people.
Friday, that impact could be seen in the packed seats at Peace Portal Alliance Church, where hundreds gathered to pay a final tribute to the family man, former politician, astute businessman and tireless community supporter.
Annable died unexpectedly on March 5, after suffering a heart attack.
Friday afternoon, however, the focus wasn’t on how Annable died, but on the legacy he left on and around the Semiahmoo Peninsula – from how he treated those around him and his innate business sense, to the efforts he put into various community initiatives and organizations.
Accounts from close friends and business associates, as well as Annable’s sisters and two children, evoked both tears and laughter from attendees – but mostly laughter.
Jeff Richards, who knew the 71-year-old for more than 20 years, recounted how the affable fellow Rotarian would call him early “just to see if I was up yet,” send cute cat videos and tell the same stories three times over.
South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce president Adam Smith recalled meeting Annable about 12 years ago, at the South Surrey Boston Pizza.
His sense of humour was quickly apparent, Smith said.
James Purcell, a fellow member of Semiahmoo Rotary, said Annable “told it the way he saw it.”
“He was very direct,” Purcell said.
The past executive director of the chamber was also big on helping young people succeed, said Purcell, noting Annable was chair of Semiahmoo Rotary’s youth committee this year.
He is to be recognized at the Rotary 5050 District Conference next month, Purcell added.
Longtime friend Gordie Hogg – MP for South Surrey-White Rock – paused to look up at a larger-than-life photo of Annable smiling out at attendees before sharing some of his fondest memories, including a couple of questions from one of the last emails Annable sent, one of which mused over the logic of why buttons on men’s clothing are on the opposite side of those on women’s clothing.
Hogg said Annable had an uncanny memory for dates, was “an encyclopedia of interesting but mostly irrelevant information,” and “wasn’t shy to tell you if you had crossed a line.”
He was extremely loyal, superstitious and a clean freak, but also had a knack not just for business, but for easing uncomfortable situations – including the time an ambulance attendant noted paperwork that accompanied Annable for a hospital procedure indicated the patient was scheduled for a hysterectomy.
“Even in those trying circumstances, he could laugh at the mistake and make them feel comfortable,” Hogg said.
Hogg described Annable’s wife of 49 years, Maureen, as “his edit button… his compass that got him back on track.”
Annable’s daughter Janet said she was “truly honoured and proud to be able to call this amazing man my father.” She was also grateful that her dad got to meet his newest grandchild, born just three weeks ago.
Annable’s son, Shawn, said his dad was a role model who could be stubborn, but “loved us unconditionally.”
Much more was said in the church Friday afternoon, and it was clear that those who spoke could have continued to share memories for many more hours.
One succinct line from Hogg encapsulated the gamut: “He lived a life that mattered.”