Joe Reichert didn’t consider life in a wheelchair to be much of a hindrance.
Born in Humboldt, Saskatchewan in 1935, Joe and his family moved to Keremeos when he was 10 years old. However, tragedy struck when Reichert was involved in an oil rig accident in Alberta in 1959 which left him a paraplegic.
While recovering in Edmonton, he soon got involved in Alberta’s newly formed Paraplegic Sports Association — and became an active wheelchair athlete, participating in such sports as archery, table tennis and shot put. He went on to represent Canada at various international Paralympic Games.
In 1977, he met his future wife, Rejeanne who worked as a Licenced Practical Nurse at the extended care facility where he lived.
The couple married in 1981, shortly after they moved to Keremeos from Edmonton.
Back in his boyhood hometown, Reichert joined the local Elks’ Lodge and became a strong supporter of the organization, serving a treasurer-secretary for many years. He also helped organize the annual Keremeos Elks Rodeo — considered to be one of the community’s premier events.
Reichert passed away on May 2, 2014 due to complications from pneumonia which he had contracted the previous winter. The 2014 Elks Rodeo was dedicated in his memory. He also volunteered for the Lower Similkameen Health Society and his church.
Now, Rejeanne has donated $50,000 from her husband’s estate to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s campaign to provide the medical equipment for the Penticton Regional Hospital expansion. The donation will result in a patient isolation room in the new PRH tower to be named in Joe’s honour.
The PRH expansion is well underway and the six-storey tower should be ready for patients throughout the South Okanagan-Similkameen in April 2019. Work will then begin on Phase 2, including a major update to the hospital’s Emergency Department to be completed by 2021.