Former Comox mayor Russ Arnott loses battle with cancer

Comox Mayor Russ Arnott was on hand at the Canada Day parade . Photo by Terry FarrellComox Mayor Russ Arnott was on hand at the Canada Day parade . Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Mayor Russ Arnott (right) made good on his Mayor’s Cup wager at Monday’s Courtenay council meeting, presenting the “trophy” to Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells, while wearing a Don Cherry jersey, which Wells supplied. The fundraising hockey game, played Jan. 18, 2019, raised more than $16,000 for the Comox Valley branch of KidSport. Photo by Scott StanfieldComox Mayor Russ Arnott (right) made good on his Mayor’s Cup wager at Monday’s Courtenay council meeting, presenting the “trophy” to Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells, while wearing a Don Cherry jersey, which Wells supplied. The fundraising hockey game, played Jan. 18, 2019, raised more than $16,000 for the Comox Valley branch of KidSport. Photo by Scott Stanfield
Comox Mayor Russ Arnott was all decked out in his finest pirate gear for the annual Comox Nautical Days Parade Aug. 5, 2019. Photo by Terry FarrellComox Mayor Russ Arnott was all decked out in his finest pirate gear for the annual Comox Nautical Days Parade Aug. 5, 2019. Photo by Terry Farrell
Russ ArnottRuss Arnott
The current town council conferred the Freedom of the Municipality to Mayor, Russ Arnott. Standing behind (to his right) Couns. Ken Grant, Alex Bissinger, Maureen Swift and (to his left) Couns. Stephanie McGowan, Nicole Minions, and Dr. Jonathan Kerr.The current town council conferred the Freedom of the Municipality to Mayor, Russ Arnott. Standing behind (to his right) Couns. Ken Grant, Alex Bissinger, Maureen Swift and (to his left) Couns. Stephanie McGowan, Nicole Minions, and Dr. Jonathan Kerr.

Former Comox mayor Russ Arnott has lost his battle with cancer.

Arnott passed away on Nov. 11.

Arnott lived in Comox for 26 years where he raised his family and served as a member of town council in 2008, and again in 2014. He was elected mayor in 2018 and spent a total of 11 years on council volunteering his time and efforts towards the enhanced livability of the town of Comox.

He also served 35 years with the federal public service, with 26 years supporting the safety of the mariners in Canadian waters and the protection of marine environment with the Canadian Coast Guard. The last nine years have been with the Canadian Forces Base Comox Housing Agency, where he managed housing solutions for military members and their families.

Arnott had announced his intention to run for re-election in the spring, but health issues forced him to withdraw from his re-election bid just one day prior to the closing of nominations.

“I’ve had a great run these past four years (11 altogether as councillor) and cherished every moment serving you but life has very recently thrown me a curve ball that I did not see coming,” he posted to his Facebook page, on Sept. 8. “So now Yolonda and my family look after me… I hate goodbyes but there’s not much else to say…”

Arnott leaves behind his partner, Yolonda, five children, and seven grandchildren.

“Russ was such an influential person to not only us his family, but the entire community, it’s heartbreaking,” said his step-daughter, Hope Lewis.

Comox Mayor Nicole Minions offered condolences on behalf of the Town of Comox.

“On behalf of the Town of Comox council and staff (past and present) we send our sincere condolences to Russ’s family; Yolonda, Ben, and Jessica, family, friends, and co-workers. We send strength to those who have taken care of our colleague and friend in these past months.”

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells, whose relationship with Arnott preceded their political connection, spoke highly of his friend.

“My heart aches with the news of Russ Arnott,” said Wells. “I met Russ before politics when we were both members of Strathcona Sunrise Rotary Club and have seen his commitment to serving others. He inspired me to get involved in sailing, and later politics.

“I am a better person because of him. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and our entire community as we remember him and the legacy he leaves. Rest in peace, my friend.”

Comox Valley Regional District chair Jesse Ketler said Arnott’s dedication to the entire community will be missed.

“Mayor Arnott was a dedicated and earnest representative of the people of the Town of Comox. He spoke passionately for the issues at the regional table and his passing is a loss for the entire Valley,” she said.

“Our deepest sympathies for his family and friends.”

Cumberland Mayor Vickey Brown also passed along her thoughts and memories of Arnott.

“(He) was a dedicated leader in his community and will be sorely missed. Public service in municipal government is not easy and requires strength and determination, and his 11 years of generous service will not be forgotten. The Village of Cumberland sends Condolences to his family and friends for their great loss.”

Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard also passed along her condolences.

“Through the decades, Russ was at the ready to serve the community he so clearly loved,” she said. “He never hesitated to advocate for his town’s priorities and Comox has benefitted from his leadership. His vision for an enduring quality of life that is the magic of Comox today and tomorrow is his legacy. Condolences to Yolonda and his whole family and gratitude to them for sharing him with the whole community.”

Comox