A committed public servant and educator, Rick Plaisier endeavoured to make whichever community he lived in better.
Plaisier, reeve for the Municipality of Sifton, passed away on Wednesday. He was 68.
Whether he was serving as an elected official, teaching the next generation of leaders or volunteering, Plaisier gave it his all, recalled Stan Cochrane, a Sifton councillor who became Plaisier’s next-door neighbour at Oak Lake Beach.
"Whatever he got involved in, he was always able to take the lead and make sure things got done," he said.
Plaisier spent his working life in education.
While teaching in Rossburn in the 1970s, he was elected councillor and by 1978 became mayor.
He again took an interest in public service while in Virden, where he served as a councillor and mayor in the 1980s and then returned in the 1990s as councillor and deputy mayor.
In his day job, he kept teaching, eventually becoming principal at the junior high.
He retired to his family’s property in Oak Lake with his wife Marie. He was elected Sifton councillor in 2006 and became reeve in 2010, a role he held until his passing from pancreatic cancer.
Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire said he was hit hard by news of Plaisier’s passing, a man he got to know well over 20 years.
"He was a very conscientious guy," Maguire said. "He wore his heart on his sleeve and did an awful lot of work ... what was best for his area, especially regarding the high water levels we had some of those years."
Maguire singled out Plaisier’s work following the 2011 flood, successfully lobbying for dike improvements in Oak Lake.
As the region mopped up from the flood, Plaisier helped initiate the grassroots Southwest Flood Strategy Committee, petitioning the provincial government on behalf of 40 municipalities in the Assiniboine River and Souris River watershed.
Well-respected by his peers, Plaisier was elected in 2013 as a Western District representative on the Association of Manitoba Municipalities’ board of directors.
"I really enjoyed his common-sense approach to issues in his region," Maguire said.
"He always knew that there were things that were possible and things that couldn’t be done immediately, but there was never anything in his mind that couldn’t be done eventually," he added. "I always respected that."
In addition to his work as an elected official, he impacted thousands as an educator.
He was also a devoted Lions Club member. As a Lion, he happily welcomed exchange students into his family home over the years.
"He had just finished, a few years ago, going on a trip back to Europe to visit a lot of the kids he had in his home," Maguire said. "That was a highlight of his life."
AMM president Chris Goertzen said Plaisier often brought his wife out to events, where he’d happily talk about his family.
In Plaisier’s eyes, family, community and politics mattered, Goertzen remembered.
"He knew in politics you could make a difference for your citizens and also for your family, he cared."
Plaisier’s funeral will be held on Tuesday at Tundra Oil and Gas Place in Virden at 1 p.m.
The visitation will be held the night before at Carscadden Funeral Chapel in Virden from 7 p.m.-9 p.m.
Plaisier is survived by his wife Marie, three sons Kent, Todd and Shawn, and their families.
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