Volunteer remembered for dedication

Callie Petrie remembered as tireless volunteer with Crystal Heart Award. Her husband Bill Petrie reflects on the Cranbrook Gospel Jamboree.

The Crystal Heart Award was given to Callie Petrie posthumously in June. Her husband Bill picked up the award from the Country Gospel Music Association.

Callie Petrie was one of the guiding forces behind the annual Gospel Jamboree when she passed away in 2011.

Now, the poet and tireless volunteer has been recognized for her achievements by the Country Gospel Music Association. The Crystal Heart Award was picked up by her husband, Bill Petrie in June.

“It was a real blessing,” Bill said, with a nod to the many volunteers who helped organize the Gospel Jamboree each year it was held in Cranbrook. “I thought, boy, what a beautiful thing.”

Along with the award, Bill received a write-up explaining why Callie was chosen as the recipient of the Crystal Heart Award.

“Callie will always be remembered for her beautiful smile and encouraging spirit,” it reads. “The world is a better place because we were privileged to have Callie with us.”

As for how his wife would have viewed the honour, Bill said it would have been an incredible keepsake.

“I think she would have been blessed,” he said. “She would have loved it.”

The award was presented in Nipawin, Sask., by president of the Country Gospel Music Association Billy Hale.

The pair were married for 46 years before Callie passed away at the age of 78 on November 1, and in that time they teamed up to put on the annual Gospel Jamboree in Cranbrook for 10 years.

They began the journey as the singing duo the Golden Heirs, traveling through B.C. and Alberta. Callie discovered poetry in 2001 and her friends urged her to turn her words into songs. She gave it a try, and many gospel songs were produced because of her writings.

Bill said his wife loved to write songs, and she turned that passion into a volunteer position. During the annual festival, Callie would always make sure everyone was well-fed.

“Callie was a lot of help,” Bill said. “She did a lot of the cooking.”

The event drew many seniors and some young fans. Local and out-of-town musicians attended and enjoyed their stay in Cranbrook. It started out at the Cranbrook Christian Centre, and was then held at the Salvation Army ministry. Finally, the Jamboree took place at the Alliance Church.

Bill said he and Callie got involved because they wanted to give back to the community.

“It’s my way of showing my appreciation,” he said.

Bill said his wife was always determined to get things done that seemed impossible, and getting the Jamboree together was one of them. It took about 10 years for the event to finally be held.

“My wife was a go-getter. She was a person who loved people,” he said. “She never gave up.”

The Jamboree was always held the second week of August. Bill remembers having a great relationship with former Cranbrook Mayor Scott Manjak, who proclaimed Country Gospel Day in Cranbrook. Callie herself is remembered fondly by the Cranbrook church community, Bill added.

The Gospel Jamboree sang its last song in 2010, as Callie retired from the position to focus on her health. Bill said he’d love to bring the event back, but needs helps getting it off the ground. Many people have asked him if he plans on having the 11th edition anytime soon.

“If I could get the help, yes,” he said. “Without the help it’s pretty difficult.”

Anyone interested in getting involved with the annual Cranbrook Gospel Jamboree can contact Bill at (250) 426-0175 or (250) 919-7585.