Excerpted article was written by Jeff Bell / Times Colonist
Nick Geer, a former Insurance Corp. of B.C. chief executive, is being remembered as a dedicated family man after his death in a motor-vehicle accident.
Geer, 75, was killed Monday in the crash near Sacramento, California. His wife of 49 years, Penny, was hospitalized at the Enloe Medical Centre in Chico. She has since been moved to the intensive-care unit at Vancouver General Hospital.
The couple had been on their way to Loreto Bay, which family members said was their favourite place.
Friends and supporters have sent numerous messages of love and support via Facebook and CaringBridge.org. “We will continue to pray for your mother’s full recovery,” said one note. “And we will always cherish the many good times we had with your dad.”
The family has been “truly moved” by the caring response, daughter Sam said in a note on CaringBridge.org.
Sam and her siblings, Jilly and Noel, issued a statement about their father. They said that he believed “the easiest way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”
“This was his philosophy,” they said. “He approached a problem not as a problem but as an opportunity.”
The children said he strove to create a legacy “through his work in the community and love for his country, family and friends.”
His community involvement earned him a Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003.
The family will carry special memories, the children said.
“Dad will always be remembered as a kind grandpa, a loving father, a caring partner and a true friend to so many,” they said. “The world won’t be the same without him.
“Your memory will always guide us and be our north star, and we love you forever, dad.”
Geer was born in London, England, and made his way to Vancouver in 1967. He worked at a number of accounting firms around Vancouver, then served as vice-chairman of the Pattison Group from 1980 to 1999 before working at ICBC from 2001 to 2004.
He was chairman and a co-founder of Collingwood School, an independent grade school in West Vancouver, and more recently was chairman of the board for NAV Canada, which owns and runs the country’s civil air navigation system.
On the occasion of Collingwood’s 2011 annual general meeting, headmaster Rodger Wright noted it was the last one for “the legendary Nick Geer, who has stood carefully and continuously by the school since before we were a school.”
Among Geer’s efforts at ICBC was cost-cutting, which he outlined in 2003 to a group of B.C. Liberal backbenchers.
He told them he arrived at the corporation to find “a fleet of vehicles that would choke a horse.”
He said there were more than 900 company vehicles at one point, a number that was pared down to 87. Both pool vehicles and executive cars were affected.
The number of employees also dropped, and 270,000 square feet of corporation space was eliminated. For management, individual performance plans meant “if the company does well and the individual does well, their pay will go up,” Geer said.
When the Probus Club of North Shore Vancouver welcomed Geer as a guest speaker, it noted that he had changed ICBC’s bottom line from a $250-million loss in 2001 to a $389-million profit by 2004.