Lee Sacrey Photography – Lee's Chatter

Mainly Photography but a little of everything at times

Randall Graham Bergen – A.K.A. my friend Randy.

with 3 comments

Well this is a post about something more important then my Photography fetish although, it will have some elements of the craft and will include some images.

Randy Bergen. Just two months and eight days before his fifty-ninth birthday, my friend Randy passed away while in the University of Alberta Hospital. Randy was a good friend. We met in January of 2006 when I made my first trip to the community of Wekweeti (formerly Snare Lakes). Randy was the new SAO and I was there to do some training on the community’s accounting system. We were instantly friends. We shared similar interests both at and away from work. We both had a vision to make each community better, more self-sufficient. It was something we started to plan together and moved forward with. It also was a vision not shared by people in Government but, we moved forward anyway. We continued to work together, talking almost every other day for over 5 years. Randy worked in three northern communities during the time I knew him and in each of those he worked hard to make a difference, to make things better but, Randy wasn’t the kind of leader to demand and order. No, he was a quiet and respectful one. He was considerate of the lives and culture of others. He was generous to each place he worked by giving of himself to improve the lives of the people in each community. That is not the extent of Randy’s generosity. Randy, made the lives of all those around him better by giving himself. He was pleasant and smiling. He would always greet me with the latest joke or story (or send me something in an e-mail).

Our work wasn’t the only interest we shared. Randy, in his day, was quite a Photographer. He would allow me to look through numerous images from his past, images of all different types and subject matter and images of the places he’d been and the people he had met. They were great images and the places just amazed me. Randy had traveled the globe, taking pictures and diving in places I will probably never see. That is right, I said diving. You see Randy was a diving instructor and was able to mix gases for diving. He had a book of diving certificates too numerous to mention (a book just full of certificates of a life under the water’s surface). What great stories he could tell of diving in places like Egypt, Palau, the Philippines, Hawaii and even northern places like Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. I loved his stories.

Randy would always take care of my co-workers and I when we traveled to where he worked.  When in Yellowknife, Randy would meet with us often. A lot of those meetings were over breakfast at places close to my office. Randy would make mental note of what we all would order and sure enough, when we were in his care he would be up before us and making each of us the breakfast like we had ordered while at our last meeting. No matter how hard we tried to tell him it was too much, it didn’t matter. We got what we had ordered anyway. It wasn’t just breakfast, he would always be back to his place ahead of us getting lunch and dinner ready before we arrived from work. He made great meals, everyone talked about his spaghetti but for me it was the rice dishes he could make.

I think I got special treatment from my buddy. Knowing I was a photography buff, Randy would always provide me with time to go out and get a few snaps of the area. He would provide me something to drive around in while shooting. Sometimes he would even do the driving (if it wasn’t Garry Kelly from my office playing tour guide). I owe all of my community images to his generosity (see a sample of those below).

Randy had been ill for a while before his passing but, even with his illness he tried not to burden others. He never told anyone just how ill he was but, I knew he was worse than he would let on and my concern grew with each visit. A couple of weeks before his last trip to Yellowknife, I got a call. It was Randy. He had come out from Wha Ti to get his truck and found that three of its four tires were flat. It was about thirty degrees below zero and he needed some help getting air. I knew he wasn’t well as Randy rarely would ask for help. I grabbed my compressor and off I went. Even then Randy would try to fill the tires with air, I was having none of that. He let me do the work but refused to let me do it all and would try to help me move the compressor to and from each tire. We got his truck up and running and within the hour he was on his way, making sure to e-mail me upon his arrival in Wha Ti. His last trip to Yellowknife was to meet me. He came out on a late afternoon flight and went directly to his hotel. The next morning he called to say he would be late because he was in the hospital. He said he may need to reschedule. Even then there were no complaints from Randy, he was still trying not to burden me with his illness. Later that night he was being medevaced to Edmonton. It was my last call from Randy, a few weeks later he was gone.

Randy, you will never be forgotten. Godspeed my friend. Thank you for the good times, the good meals, the good stories and most of all the friendship. These images are for you and without you I would never have gotten to take them.


Aurora above Randy’s house in Wekweeti.

Lights on Ice Crystals near the Hotel in Gameti.

Willow Ptarmigan on the Wha Ti Falls Road.

Aurora above the winter road to Wha Ti.

Moon above the tree line near the Wha Ti Airport.

Curious Fox on the Wha Ti winter road. Randy was driving when I got this image.


3 Responses

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  1. Thats the most awesome tribute i have read or heard…….. I only wish i could have met this wonderful guy.

    loretta Beck

    June 4, 2011 at 1:58 AM

  2. i don’t leave too many replies Lee, but that story has now just added even more depth to these great photos.
    rest in peace Randy, wish I could have met you


    June 4, 2011 at 8:28 AM

  3. Awesome images you have made! So cool!

    Alex Khoo

    July 12, 2011 at 2:42 AM

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