Man does favours and good deeds for neighbours

Josh Pennell Josh.pennell@thetelegram.com
Published on January 21, 2016
Rosalind Hodder thinks her neighbour Bernie Oliver is a good Samaritan for all the good deeds he does around their apartment complex in St. John’s.
Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Bernie Oliver is proving to his neighbours that it truly is the little things that count.

“I could go on all day. He just does so much,” says Rosalind Hodder who lives in the same St. John’s apartment complex as Oliver.  

It was Oliver’s persistent good deeds that inspired Hodder to contact The Telegram.

“I’ll get off work tonight at 10 p.m. and I guarantee you my step will be cleared off and I’d say everybody else’s around that,” says Hodder.

But it’s not just clearing a bit of snow for people.

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“He’ll go and get groceries at the store and drop them off to other neighbours. He’ll go and buy a bag of salt and leave it at someone else’s door,” she says.

Oliver was once the superintendent of the building, but hasn’t been in that role for a number of years. If he hears of someone needing a small repair done, he shows up ready to take on the job. He overheard Hodder telling her sister one time there was a problem with her toilet and the plumber was taking awhile getting in to look at it.

“One day I have a knock on my door.”

It was Oliver.

“He went in like three days in a row because it wasn’t getting fixed and the plumber still hadn’t shown up. He fixed that for me. He does that for a lot of people. He does little repairs,” says Hodder.

Hodder has also come home to find pop or other treats left by her door for her young son.

“He even seen me out walking in storms going up to get my little guy and he said, ‘C’mon. I’ll give you a ride up.’”

His good deeds reach beyond his immediate building.

“He not only helps me out. He helps everybody out. It’s just above and beyond anything that I’ve seen.”

Oliver doesn’t see it that way.

“I just do it to keep myself busy,” he says.

“There’s a lot of people in a rush here in the morning and I’ve got a bit of time on my hands right now, so I don’t mind.”

Oliver was the superintendent of the building before Hodder lived there. He was working as a heavy-equipment operator on the Muskrat Falls project, but gave that up to take care of his wife, who was terminally ill and died just days before Christmas.

“It was 12 wonderful years,” he says of his marriage.

Hodder says Oliver spent day and night in palliative care for a month and a half with his wife.

“When he got home sometimes at five or six in the morning you’d see him out there still clearing the ice off people’s cars.”

Although he was doing such kind acts before, since his wife died Oliver has even more conviction for his altruistic behaviour.

“You’ve got to keep occupied,” he says.

His goodwill isn’t lost on his neighbours.

“I’m not trying to boost him up too much. I think I’m just boosting him up exactly what he deserves,” says Hodder.

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com