Don MacDonald is the editor of the Sudbury Star.
Ted Szilva will be best known as the creator of the Big Nickel, an iconic landmark that now helps define Greater Sudbury for many Canadians.
Szilva, who died last week at the age of 81, was much more than the Big Nickel, however. He was a bit of a visionary who helped the city re-imagine itself.
A firefighter and not quite 30 when he opened the Big Nickel (a nine-metre or 30-foot replica of a 1951 Canadian nickel) in 1964, he went on to build an underground mine at the site, located on hill overlooking the intersection of Municipal Road 55 and Big Nickel Drive. He did so mostly on his own and with no support from municipal leaders at the time.
Eventually, the Big Nickel and the mine became part of Science North’s Dynamic Earth, which attracts thousands of tourists a year, generating millions in economic activity.
Speaking of Science North, that was another Szilva idea. He could never get public support to build it, but government purchased the idea and in 1984, Queen Elizabeth opened the science centre. Like the Big Nickel, Science North has helped change the way people think about Sudbury, while attracting tourists and millions in economic activity.
A committed Roman Catholic, he helped manage a private lottery, Pot O’ Gold, during the 1980s that provided funding for Ontario’s Catholic schools. When the provincial government extended full funding to Catholic schools in 1984, Szilva re-established it as a charity fund, which raised millions.
Later, he was the inventor of the D-Best Keyholder and president of D-Best Products.
Szilva was also a loving husband to Betty and a father to five, who mourned his death and celebrated his life Monday at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church.
Family friend Father Jim Link said Szilva “lived the hyphen” between the date of his birth and the date of his death, and there were few empty moments in between.
“He made us all proud to be Sudburians,” added Jean-Louis Plouffe, bishop emeritus of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, of the man known for his great love for Sudbury.
His passing should be mourned by all Sudburians. His drive and his passion will be missed.
For the original source of this column, click here: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2016/03/16/pov-ted-szilva-made-sudbury-a-better-place