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'Plant a rose bush': Victoria community remembers Alfred 'The Flowerman' Sillem

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A longtime Victoria resident known for his colourful floral bouquets that earned him the nickname "the Flowerman" has died.

Over the last 40 years, locals and visitors alike may remember Alfred Cornelius Sillem stopping by downtown restaurants, bars and hotels, wearing a tuxedo and selling flowers.

He was part of the city itself. The kind of guy you felt you knew, even if you didn't.

If you went out for a night on the town anytime between the 80s up until a few years ago, you probably saw Sillem offering flowers at every bar and nightclub in Victoria.

He was an entertainer, he loved to sing and to dance.

"He'd belt out a tune, whether you liked it or not," said Grant Olson, owner of the Sticky Wicket in Victoria.

He may have been known to us as the Flowerman, but to Janet Atchinson, he was dad.

Though that wasn't always the case.

"I was a street kid and I met Alfred," said Atchinson.

"I thought he was an adult who might actually miss me if he didn't see me," she said. "I went to tell him I'm leaving town and he asked me not to. He went and asked his wife, who'd never met me, if I could become part of the family."

The man who went from a father of three kids to four overnight, died Friday. He was 77.

On social media, tributes poured in.

"He did something I'd never seen done before. Found a niche, he created it, and he did it professionally. I think he loved it," said Olson.

Sillem did his best work before social media, before nights out were seen through a phone.

There's not a lot of video to share, but that's not what's important.

"It's how he touched people," said Atchinson. "We're honoured with the outshow of love and support we've been getting."

So raise a glass, or better yet "plant a rose bush" says Atchinson, in memory of a man who made the Garden City just a little bit more beautiful.

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