Kathy Barnett — 1958-2008

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The Pique office received news late Tuesday afternoon that owner and publisher Kathy Barnett has died while cycling in New Zealand early Wednesday morning. She was on an extended 15-day cycling tour when she was struck by a motorist near Taupo on the North Island. According to reports, the driver was momentarily blinded by the sun coming over a hill at roughly 10 a.m., and did not see Kathy.

Thankfully Bob Barnett was not injured in the accident, and our thoughts go out to him at this time.

This may be the worst way of informing people of tragic news, and my sincerest apologies to the friends and associates of Kathy Barnett who had to learn of her death in this column. Please accept the condolences of everyone at Pique.

However, we believe that Kathy would wish to be remembered by the newsmagazine she created, and for the Pique to go on even if the words are written with a heavy heart.

There will be time for proper obituaries and memorials when we’ve learned more details and the shock has worn off. For now it’s enough to say, borrowing words from Michel Beaudry when my own fail, that this is not just a loss for her friends and family, but for all of Whistler.

We appreciate all your phone calls and letters, and sincere offers to help. It’s gratifying to know how many friends Kathy really has in Whistler.

Kathy cared deeply about this community. Over the years she has donated her time to numerous boards, including Tourism Whistler, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, and the Community Foundation of Whistler. She was the spark behind the annual Pique Pedal Parade on Canada Day, and gleefully helped countless children to decorate their bikes and show their national pride.

As an individual and through the newsmagazine she supported literally hundreds of local charities and non-profits, and ensured that Pique always had a generous budget to support the things that are most important to the community.

She will be remembered for much, and missed in ways that we can’t even begin to fathom.

Right now I miss her laugh, loud and joyful, which the whole office could hear even when we were separated at times by two metal doors and a concrete floor. It was just one of the many things that set her apart, but it’s impossible to look at pictures of her face without thinking about the laugh that goes along with it.

In all ways, she was a formidable person.

In business, she was tough but fair; smart but unassuming; independent but always willing to put her trust in others. She was one of those rare people who could bring her ideas to life by focusing on the details.

Her talents were noticed far and wide, which is why she was one of 24 small business owners in the province picked to sit on the B.C. Small Business Roundtable. She was the vice-chair of the Women’s Enterprise Centre created by Western Economic Diversification Canada, and is a former Whistler Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year.

But for all her achievements, the thing she was most proud of was Pique Newsmagazine. In its early days she fought tooth and nail to get every issue published, but her hard work paid off as she helped the paper become profitable after its first year — a rarity for any small publication. As the paper has grown, and her staff along with it, Bob and Kathy have kept it true to their vision.

Kathy is the reason we run art on our covers instead of news. She is the reason that Pique remains one of the only independent newspapers in all of Canada. She is also the reason that the Pique has become such an open forum for debate and dialogue over the years, and never lost site of the fact that at the end of the day that this paper belongs to the community.

Kathy, you truly were one of a kind and will be missed by all of us at Pique. We will mourn you, celebrate you, and remember you always.


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