By Steve Hubrecht
The fire that burned down the old Ritz Motel may not have injured anybody, but Gary Teare lost pretty much everything he had to it.
Mr. Teare was the caretaker at the motel, in addition to being a cook at the Horsethief Creek Pub. He was born and raised in Calgary but moved to Radium six years ago to become a cook for construction crews working on the Sable Ridge housing development.
“He’d fallen in love with the valley and the people here,” said Horsethief Creek Pub manger Charlene Fuller, for whom Mr. Teare has worked most of the six years he’s lived in Radium.
Ms. Fuller described Mr. Teare as shy, modest and soft-spoken — so much so that he’ll often go a full day without saying much more than a sentence — but also as generous and compassionate.
“He’s probably the nicest person I’ve met in my entire life,” she said. “If somebody needs something, he’s the first to volunteer.”
Indeed Mr. Teare has been known to slide perfectly into playing the role of Santa Claus come Christmas time. He’d go easy on the teenagers he caught hanging around the motel, usually adopting a kids-will-be-kids attitude instead of cracking down on them too hard. He also gets no small acclaim for his skills in the kitchen.
“He’s the greatest baker in the world,” said Ms. Fuller.
Mr. Teare was actually baking a cake at the pub, on his day off, while the fire that destroyed all his possessions burned down the motel. It was a 16th birthday cake for Ms. Fuller’s daughter, who washes dishes at the pub.
“He’s lost completely everything that he owned,” said Ms. Fuller, adding that he had no insurance.
Among the other belongings that went up in flames were hundreds of cherished movies, of which Mr. Teare was an avid collector.
“Every time went to Calgary, he’d come back with a dozen more movies; he just loved them,” said Ms. Fuller.
She is holding a fundraiser for Mr. Teare at the Radium Seniors Hall on Saturday, June 22nd,10 a.m. to 3 p.m.