BARRY’S BAY – When a volunteer entered Gord Pratt’s hospice room early in December, she said, “Oh, no! It’s Mr. Ash Grove.” The civil engineer turned innkeeper was well known in the Valley as the owner of The Ash Grove Inn on Highway 62 in Barry’s Bay; and according to Pratt’s daughter, Rose Shulist, it would have meant a lot to him to have been recognized in this way. Pratt had suffered a short bout of cancer before his passing on December 14th, 2020.
Pratt poured his heart into the development of the Ash Grove, and he was proud of the fact that almost his entire family worked at the establishment at one point or another, which helped to grow it as an important business in our community. His wife of 56 years, Annice, and three of his four daughters, Beth Henry, Rose Shulist, and Sara Pratt, all worked at the Ash Grove at some point, each contributing their talents to either the restaurant or the motel, and often to both. Gord’s other daughter, Valerie, often contributed from afar with her vast knowledge of human resources. Beth’s husband, Wendell Henry, was also instrumental in establishing the Ash Grove, and it is currently being run by Wendell and their daughter, Aidan, and their staff.
Most of Pratt’s grandchildren, Carter and Megan Henry, Emma and Chris Owen, and Camryn and Jack Shulist have also taken a turn working at the family business over the years.
The Valley Gazette interviewed Rose Shulist shortly after Gordon’s death and she described him as “hard working and funny”. She said, “He would do anything for anybody.” He was particularly proud of the team that ran the Ash Grove over the years. In addition to providing jobs for his family, Pratt also attracted the loyalty of many long-term employees, some of whom have worked there for twenty years or more.
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