This month, we want to express our gratitude to Nipper Guest, founder and former President of Calgary-based Spartan Controls former President of the Bearspaw Benevolent Foundation.
A highlight of our conversation with Nipper was his recollection of the gift of a book given to all babies born into the families of Spartan Controls employees. An excerpt from the letter written to the newborn baby from Nipper, demonstrates Nipper’s leadership by example and deep understanding of the importance of literacy in our lives…
“Please accept this book, “Winnie the Pooh” by A. A. Milne as a token of our pleasure at your arrival. I hope that Christopher Robin and his friends bring you as much amusement and delight as they did for my family. Be sure to get your folks to read this and other books to you, and if you are lucky, you will develop a love for books and reading that will last all your life.”
Nipper, now in his 90s, spoke to us of how he developed a love of reading. He related fond memories of his mother reading aloud to him from “Uncle Wiggly Long Ears” books. Nipper also recalled his mum reciting nursery rhymes to him when he was young and around the age of ten Nipper enjoyed independently reading “Chums” — a serialized weekly boys adventure publication from England. Hearing about our Read With Me
initiative which through health clinics, provides free books and information to new parents about reading aloud to their children, early and often, he smiled and slowly nodded, a bright twinkle in his eye.
During Nipper’s time as President of the Bearspaw Benevolent Foundation, the foundation generously donated annually to Calgary Reads and a variety of other community organizations supporting Calgarians. Nipper told us that the work of organizations such as Calgary Reads, the Calgary Drop In Centre and ARBI caught his attention when he read about them in a spotlight story in the newspaper one Christmas many years ago. When asked why, since starting in 2007, he continues to contribute to organizations like Calgary Reads, which serves vulnerable people, Nipper replied “it’s a no brainer!” Referring to the value of early literacy intervention work of Calgary Reads, Nipper also mused “If we help them while they’re kids, then they won’t need the Drop In Centre!”
In addition to his extensive philanthropy, Nipper is the author of the book “No Place for a Married Man With Kids” in which he writes in detail about aspects of his life; from his military service in World War II, his extensive travel, cycling trips in many different countries, raising children and more. This memoir is a fascinating read about a local business man, adventurer, husband and father.
Nipper has had a significant and positive impact in our city, greater than he realizes. In honor of Nipper Guest and other seniors we love and admire, Calgary Reads is developing a Senior’s Comfort Collection which will be a variety of books, curated especially for seniors, meant to bring a little sunshine to their reading lives.
We are grateful to Nipper Guest and the Bearspaw Benevolent Foundation for supporting our work over many years.