Longtime Yellowknifers are mourning the loss of longtime business leader and community activist Gerry Avery.
Avery’s day job was as an accountant, serving as managing principal of Avery Cooper since 1990. He joined the firm in 1977 and retired in 2015.
He was recognized multiple times for his work, including with the Northwest Territories Chamber of Commerce Businessperson of the Year award in 2010, and the Fellow of the Certified General Accountants designation in 1996 for his contributions to the profession. During his time with the firm, his clients included companies in the aircraft industry, the Government of the Northwest Territories and various housing associations.
Outside of his day job, Avery served as the founding president of the Yellowknife Community Foundation from 1993 until 2003.
“He was a real community visionary,” says another Yellowknife Community Foundation co-founder, Ian Legaree.
He says Avery, who died on Dec. 14 at age 72, had “a long view of the benefits of what a community foundation could do.”
Legaree remembers the first grant that the organization gave out, to the Side Door Youth Drop-In Centre in 1996.
“We were very excited to be able to start actually giving out money,” he says.
He recalls the pride Avery felt at having his photo published in Yellowknifer in conjunction with that milestone.
As of January 2021, the foundation had donated over $5 million to local causes.
Among other community roles, Avery also served as president of Ecology North from 1974-1982 and as a member of the Student Grants and Bursaries Board for Continuing Education from 1978–83.
Beyond his day job and community work, Avery had a passion for golf. A copy of his biography from 2012 says that he “intends to retire from the profession some day to embark on a new career as a professional golfer but he is having too much fun to leave any time soon.”
Avery leaves behind a wife, two sons, and many grandchildren.
“[It’s] a great loss to our community,” says Legaree.
Geoff Wiest also worked alongside Avery for many years, both professionally and for seven years as the secretary/treasurer of the Yellowknife Community Foundation.
“Gerry was a great guy, I really enjoyed working with him,” says Wiest, a lawyer with Denroche and Associates. “He was a great professional. He was a very upbeat, positive guy who worked hard to achieve the goal that needed to be achieved.”