It started out as one of those ever famous Prince Rumour stories, the thing of coffee shop and watering hole conversations. The story went that the former mayor of Prince Rupert, John Kuz had passed away in a Vancouver hospital just before Christmas.
The only original hint of the story came from the princerupert.com site, which originally posted an unconfirmed story to the fact (one since taken down). Other than that, the story had no public fact to it; without any form of confirmation it was to remain a rumour, that is at least until yesterday.
In Friday’s Daily News, an obituary appeared highlighting the normal contents of those snippets of information, details of those left behind and time and location of his passing. It also relayed a number of the achievements of the late mayor who had become a fixture in Prince Rupert over the years.
Over on the front page, the Daily News provided pretty well the same details, as part of their front page coverage of the passing of one of the colourful characters of Prince Rupert history.
The story of Kuz traces back some of the important times of the labour movement in the city from his days with the UFCW at the Fishermen’s Co-op and some of the battles fought on the local labour scene. From his labour organizing days he moved on to municipal politics, first as an alderman in 1989 and then as the elected follow up mayor to the legendary Peter Lester in 1993.
With Lester’s retirement, the normally reticent (perhaps a tad jaded) local populace seemed to gather into different camps, each one equally supporting their preferred candidate to take over the office and offer up a new vision for the city.
That election campaign, which was a three way fight between Kuz, Linda Marhsall-Lutz and Jim Ciccone would prove to be one of the hardest fought races in recent political times. Of the three, Kuz ran the campaign most similar to the ones organized by the former mayor, perhaps the key to his success at the polls.
His time in the mayor’s office however, would be short lived and shadowed in controversy and a more than a bit of mystery. Eventually he would relinquish his office, having lost the confidence of his council of the day. It made for some tense times at City Hall, in a most a rebellious state over the managerial style of the Mayor at the time.
From those contentious days in office he developed a more private role in the community, serving on boards, providing counsel for those looking to put forward their civic proposals, it’s reported that he dabbled in construction and he was never really very far from the local political scene, whether with the NDP federally and provincially, or working on local municipal campaigns of those who he shared political direction with.
In a city that has brought forward some pretty colourful characters over the years, Kuz would prove to fit the bill regardless of the station of his life at the time. While we’ve had a number of mayors since his brief time in office, many still remember those days of the mid nineties, with a mixture of emotions and thoughts.
Regardless of their point of view, no one could argue that John Kuz wasn’t a passionate defender of his positions. With his passing yet another chapter closes on one of the more interesting times in Prince Rupert history.
Former city mayor, Rupert booster, passes on at 57
The Daily news
Friday, December 29, 2006
Former Prince Rupert mayor John Wayne Kuz passed away in Vancouver just before Christmas at the age of 57.
The well known community member died Dec. 23 at St. Paul’s Hospital. By press time, the cause of death had not been confirmed.
Kuz was well known for his work with the New Democratic Party as well as his involvement in city politics.
Born in Prince George on Jan. 6, 1949, Kuz lived most of his life in northern B.C.
He was first elected to city council in May 1989 during a by-election and then was re-elected in 1990. In 1993, he ran for mayor against Jim Ciccone and Linda Marshall-Lutz and won by more than 600 votes.
He took over from Peter Lester, who was mayor for the previous three decades.
Kuz worked with the United Foods and Commercial Workers Union strengthening labour management relations and is widely credited with helping facilitate a creative solution at the Prince Rupert Fishermen’s Co-operative, which saw the filleting line at the plant retained. He also worked in construction.
He sat on many boards and committees. Among them were the Prince Rupert Drug Services Society, Prince Rupert Aids Committee, Northwest Community College Advisory Committee, Prince Rupert Labour Council, Parks and Recreation Commission and Library Board. Most recently, he took on the challenge of leading the committee to put forward recommendations on a Community Forest for the city of Prince Rupert. He was a tireless believer in the potential of the community.
A celebration of his life will be held at a later date when his family can attend.
DAILY NEWS OBITUARY
Friday, December 29, 2006
KUZ, John Wayne
January 6, 1949-December 23, 2006
John passed away on December 23, 2006 at St. Paul’s Hospital. John was known for his giving to others from all walks of life. John was very politically involved with the NDP and worked long and hard on Federal, Provincial and Municipal elections. John cared deeply for his community. John was a Union Business Agent, Past Mayor of Prince Rupert, City councilor and sat on many boards. John was a hard worker and was always there to stand for the underdog, while expecting nothing in return. John will be sadly missed by the many lives he touched with his compassionate and loving nature. John leaves behind his best friend and partner Ann, her children Donna & Kristopher, her grandchildren , his brother Harold (Mollie) Kuz of Vancouver, his sister Leona (Jim) Beastal of Williams Lake, many nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews. John leaves behind his son Jeremy and his son Ben, daughter Crescentia and her children. John is pre-deceased by his father John, his mother Annie and his loving sister Elaine. John will be sadly missed by his dog Shadow (Lady Balmouth). A celebration of John’s life will be held at a later date when his family can attend.