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April 7, 2015, 5:56 PM  |  News

Known for his contagious smile peaking from under a dapper cowboy hat, Everett McGowin has been a stable, well-loved member of the Gastown community for over 25 years.

News of Everett McGowin’s courageous effort to save his wife Linda from a fall from their float home on the Fraser River this weekend travelled fast throughout Gastown.

Charming and affable, Everett created a friendly atmosphere for his neighbours and visitors in his Western inspired store, O.K. Boot Corral on Maple Tree Square. In an interview with the Westender Everett said, “I chose Gastown for my boot business in the 80’s in the hopes that the neighbourhood would return its 60’s glory days of great stores and restaurants – a place tourists and locals came to hang out.” It is heartening to know that Everett witnessed this transformation.

Despite two speeding cars plunging through his Gastown shopfront within two years, Everett was never discouraged. He often stated he had confidence in two things “his vocation and his location”. Everett provided boots made for walking, as well as dancing, to the likes of high profile people like B.C. Premier Christy Clark, and regular folk looking to get kitted-out for the Cloverdale Rodeo, a night on the town, or a western themed event.

Perhaps one Gastown business owner summed-up the mood around Gastown today best. “All of us are deeply saddened by Everett’s tragic passing. His lunchtime visits were always a pleasure.  In our first few months, he would come in and sit with me to sip a lager and “talk shop” about the early days of owning a business in Gastown, sometimes shaking his head at how much and how rapidly our little corner of the world had changed. He always had a kind word of encouragement and his smile was utterly contagious. His amazing act of bravery comes as no surprise to us, as we have always known him to be the utmost gentleman. He will be sorely missed and very fondly remembered.”

Pointing at his well-worn leather boots, purchased from Everett himself, Rocco Bates of FortKnight Barbers, spoke of him with great respect. Rocco said, “Everett was good for a laugh, good for conversation. A very kind, nice man. He never gave anyone a raw deal.”

Gazette contacted Premier Christy Clark’s office yesterday and the Premier released the following statement on Everett’s passing this morning. “Everett was old-fashioned in the very best way. With him, the customer always came first — and ‎you could also count on his honest opinion. I know Gastown will miss Everett for his expertise, his dedication to the neighbourhood, and his personal warmth. So will I.”

Everett and Linda spent the last 15 years living aboard their purple floating home on the Fraser River. We wish Linda a speedy recovery and we hope Everett’s community spirit and love for Gastown will be remembered in every Gastowners purple heart.

By Jill Plant and The Editors

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