Kirkpatrick left his mark 

With all the tenacity and drive his beloved Seattle Mariners showed during their playoff run of 1995, Max Kirkpatrick left his mark on Whistler.

Kirkpatrick died at home, with his family by his side, Feb. 12 after a battle with cancer. He was 65.

Kirkpatrick was born and raised in the Lower Mainland, where he spent most of his career in the automobile industry, including a long stint with the Jim Pattison Group. He also worked in the stock market for a time.

Max and his wife Judi first came to Whistler in 1982. They started Rainbow Rentals in 1984. In the mid-90s they started the local Budget Rent-a-car business.

In Whistler Kirkpatrick established a reputation for plowing ahead and getting things done, particularly in two fields he was passionate about, baseball and municipal politics. He served as chairman of the Whistler Baseball Association for several years, helping get the association organized and equipped to handle the hundreds of people who participate in Whistler’s most popular team sport. As a Whistler councillor from 1993 to 1996 he was a strong advocate for Spruce Grove Park, which has developed, as Kirkpatrick imagined, into one of the premier softball parks in British Columbia. Spruce Grove was the main venue for the Slo-Pitch Nationals which Whistler hosted in 1998.

During the Major League playoffs of 1995 Kirkpatrick was sure the Seattle Mariners were going to win the World Series. They came up short, losing to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series.

"I remember Max as quite a character," Mayor Hugh O’Reilly recalled this week. "He was outspoken and a great story teller – most of the stories you can’t repeat in public."

O’Reilly, who defeated Kirkpatrick and four other candidates for mayor in 1996, sat next to Kirkpatrick at the council table for three years.

"He knew a lot of people from his days in Vancouver. He was a great salesman and very entertaining."

As a politician Kirkpatrick was a populist, somewhat in the tradition of B.C. politicians WAC Bennett and Bill Vander Zalm. Enthusiastic, opinionated and determined to see goals become realities, Kirkpatrick was a strong advocate for the local youth program and for employee housing, working with the Whistler Housing Authority’s predecessor, the Whistler Valley Housing Society. He was also instrumental in the formation of the W5 Foundation and the bid to bring World Cup downhill ski races to Whistler on an annual basis.

Last month Whistler council named the street that leads to Spruce Grove Park, Kirkpatrick Road. The Whistler Baseball Association plans to erect a plaque in Kirkpatrick’s honour at the Spruce Grove ball diamonds.

Kirkpatrick is survived by his wife Judi, six children and nine grandchildren. A celebration of his life will take place Feb. 16, 2 p.m. at Joel’s at Nicklaus North Golf Club.

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