Perched on Mount Rose Swanson’s southern peak, where you can see Otter Lake, Swan Lake and the north arm of Okanagan Lake is a perfect spot to take it all in.
As the Armstrong Spallumcheen Trails Society was dedicating a bench constructed and erected on the mountain in memory of its former president Peter Rotzetter in October, five eagles soared overhead; a sure sign Rotzetter’s spirit was with them.
Rotzetter, owner of Chocoliro’s Finest Chocolates, died suddenly Jan. 30, 2020 at age 56 and his death left a huge hole not only with the society but in the Armstrong-Spallumcheen communities.
“We were trying to come up with a way to honour him,” current society president Marge Sidney said. “He was involved with the chamber, the (North Okanagan-Shuswap) rail trail, but he loved Mt. Rose Swanson.”
Rotzetter’s widow, Jolanda, requested after her husband’s death that donations in memory of Peter be made to the trails society, which collected $1,327.75. The club decided to buy a durable bench, compose a plaque and install it at a semi-secluded viewpoint near the tower on Rose Swanson.
“It was an interesting field trip to put up the bench,” laughed Sidney. “The bench came in pieces and was close to 200 pounds. We had to bolt it into the bedrock so we had a dolly cart to move the pieces up the trail. We took turns wheeling the cart up and at one point, we had to have four members carrying it.”
On Thanksgiving Monday, Oct. 11, 15 society members and guests – including Sidney’s mother and legendary Armstrong teacher, 98-year-old garbage-picker-upper Helen Sidney – took some crystal glasses and bubbly to the bench. And with Jolanda joining them, they toasted Rotzetter, told stories and shared some laughs and tears.