Former Whistler resident Nicola (Nick) Antonio Di Lalla passed away Dec. 16 in Chilliwack at the age of 85.
Known for his sense of humour and his work ethic, Nick and wife Sjaan were fixtures in Whistler during the late 1970s and ’80s, running businesses, doing volunteer work with the Whistler Rotary Club and making frequent appearances in the Notes From All Over column in the Whistler Question.
Born Feb. 15, 1921 in Vancouver, Di Lalla joined the Canadian Army at 18 and served in Italy and Holland during the Second World War. It was during the liberation of the Netherlands that he met Sjaan. At the end of the war Nick asked Sjaan’s father if they could marry but was told to come back in a year when he had a job and had established himself.
Nick went home to Vancouver and found work as a delivery truck driver for Eaton’s. He returned to Holland after a year and was married to Sjaan in an elaborate Dutch wedding ceremony that included a horse-drawn carriage and ceremonial swords.
The couple lived in an apartment in Vancouver’s West End for many years, with Nick continuing to work for Eaton’s and Sjaan, who had to learn English, finding work in the clothing industry, including working as buyer for The Evening Room at the Hudson’s Bay Company.
The couple saved enough to eventually buy a duplex in Vancouver, which they improved and then sold for a profit. They bought and sold several homes over the years and made enough money to go into business for themselves. They bought the Pied Piper pest control company and ran the business for several years before selling it and moving full time to Whistler in the late 1970s.
In Whistler, Nick worked as a bylaw officer for a while, directing traffic on weekends at the new intersection of Village Gate Boulevard and Highway 99. Sjaan was hired to manage the Clocktower building in the new Whistler Village. Nick also did caretaker work and got back into the pest management business for a time. He was active in the Whistler Rotary Club and used his sense of humour in imposing fines on club members.
“He always turned out earliest, stayed longest and worked hardest for the community,” said friend Lynn Ledgerwood.
The Di Lallas lived in a large home in Alpine Meadows that was kept meticulously clean and orderly and housed all kinds of goods acquired during trips to Holland and elsewhere. In the summers the garden was always scrupulously cared for and at Christmas the house had the biggest light display in the valley.
In the late 1990s the Di Lallas moved to a house on Little Mountain in Chilliwack. It took seven trucks to move all the goods from Whistler to Chilliwack. But with the move they also cut ties to many of the people they knew in Whistler.
“It was very sad, they kind of isolated themselves,” said Ledgerwood.
“They left a big hole in Whistler when they left.”
Sjaan passed away in November 2004.
Nick was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November 2006. He had sold the house and had moved into a seniors’ home. He died Dec. 16 in Chilliwack General Hospital. He requested there be no memorial or funeral ceremony.
“He wasn’t one for ceremony,” said Ledgerwood. “But at least he wasn’t sick for long.”
Nick is survived by a sister, Angie, and a brother, Frank.
“They were wonderful, wonderful people,” Ledgerwood said. “They worked their fingers to the bone and they reaped the rewards of it.”