Paul Horgen

Coffee with … Paul Horgen

Visual impairment does not slow down community-minded senior

Scott Stanfield

Record Staff

He is visually impaired, but that doesn’t stop Paul Horgen from being an active member of the Comox Valley community.

The 71-year-old Comox resident — who taught biology at the University of Toronto during his working years — is board chair of the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society, is involved with the local White Cane Club, and sits on the Vancouver Island board of directors of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the National Research board. The latter is comprised mostly of ophthalmologists and scientists that deal with the eyes.

He and his wife Ilona have been involved in ElderCollege at North Island College. She is a past chair of the organization for students 55 and older.

Horgen has also written a book about his seeing eye dog — a seven-year-old yellow Lab named Kona. The book, Tails of Kona the Guide Dog, is self-published. He would like to see it appear in school libraries.

“It’s received very good feedback from teachers,” said Horgen, a recipient of the prestigious Paul Harris Award from the Comox Rotary Club.

“I’d like to teach children and parents and grandparents about how to behave around guide dogs. You’d be surprised how many people will come up and want to pet Kona when I’m walking with her. She’s on duty.”

In his 20s, Horgen was diagnosed with an eye disorder called retinitis pigmentosa where the eye slowly deteriorates. He was told he would first lose his peripheral vision and then his central vision in his 60s. It happened exactly that way, but he nevertheless worked until age 63. He has retained a bit of his eyesight.

Horgen grew up in California, came to Canada in 1972, and moved to the Valley in 2005.

Upon graduating from guide dog school in 2008, he was teamed with Kona. Both underwent training in Vancouver.

“She’s got two more good years in her, according to the BC Guide Dog Services,” Horgen said. “She’s in very good shape.”

Music is also part of Horgen’s life. He used to lead a doo-wop singing group in Toronto. He later wrote a song called Our Estuary, recorded at Dove Creek Recording Studios, with Mary Murphy on vocals, and Paul Keim on guitar and bass.

Accompanied by his buddy Jim Gillis, Horgen is having fun engaging in ‘tasty reviews’ with the Blind Taste Tester, which involves eating, drinking and supporting local restaurants, breweries, pubs and wineries.

 

Just Posted

YANA Ride cruises past fundraising goal

The 2018 ride is expected to meet last year’s total of $62,000

Mid-Vancouver Island air quality risk very high

Residents of the mid-Island area went to bed last night and awoke… Continue reading

Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue kept busy across the province

CVGSAR had a busy week, sending rescuers as far away as Invermere

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Glacier View residents take a ride on the river

Ground Search and Rescue guides floaters on Puntledge

Bear kills off-leash dog in B.C. park

There have been nearly 200 pet or livestock and bear encounters so far this year

Trudeau says he won’t apologize to heckler, pledges to call out ‘hate speech’

Prime Minister had accused woman of racism as she shouted about illegal immigration at Quebec rally

Documentary filmed in B.C. nominated in ‘Wildlife Oscars’’

Toad People is the only Canadian film to be nominated in this year’s Panda Wilderness Awards

B.C. man builds 10-foot sign thanking fire responders

Ken Rawson built his “thank u” sign on Saturday as helicopters responded to fires around the province.

PHOTOS: Olympian Patrick Chan helps B.C.’s ‘SuperChefs’ celebrate 10th anniversary

Former figure skater among those at event Friday in Surrey

Smaller B.C. bus service prepares to replace Greyhound

Kootenay-to-Okanagan run would require online reservations

Mother charged with homicide of Langley seven-year-old

Aaliyah Rosa’s 36-year-old mother charged with second degree murder: IHIT

Smoke from B.C. wildfires prompts air quality advisories across Western Canada

A massive cloud of smoke hangs over B.C. and Alberta due to wildfires

Most Read