Ray Allen Simmons was born in Meeting Creek Alberta on December 8, 1928 and peacefully left us in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022. He travelled a lot of miles in between.
Ray is predeceased by his resilient, gifted parents (Helen and Horace) and two sisters (Jean and Phyllis). His younger brother Norman (Rose) still resides in Creston B.C. Ray is survived by his wife Mabel, their three girls, Gail (Jim), Janet (Chuck), Laura (Gordon), four grandchildren Sherrie (Mike), Christine (Jordan), Ryan (Alanna) and Raylene. In turn, they produced six ‘great-grands’ for Ray in Kate, Krista, Charlie, Landon, Memphis, and Kennedy. With each one, he tickled toes, hugged with joy, and bounced on his knees.
Ray could count at least 18 residences/moves across BC, Alberta, and Manitoba in his life. The Depression forced many of his family’s early moves throughout B.C. First to a primitive log cabin homestead in northern Cecile Lake and then to B.C.’s south where Ray was educated in many one-room/small schoolhouses, finally finishing high school in the town of Creston. His next moves were to Calgary & Edmonton. In 1954, he continued his journey with his bride, Mabel A. Janke from Edmonton to Lethbridge, Grand Prairie, Calgary and three homes in St. James until they built their retirement home overlooking the Red River in 1983. The final years saw Ray & Mabel move to Riverwood Square and finally Ray moved to Shaftsbury Assisted Living just before the pandemic lockdowns, to be close to Mabel’s new residence.
Ray had a delightful sense of humor even as he told of the depression/war years in BC; poaching the ‘king’s cattle’ (deer), the illegal GGMO (great-gold-mining operation), winter fun on barrel-slat downhill skis, and many adventures and mis-adventures that his boyhood freedom allowed. Even the hooky-playing river adventure that got him strapped for skipping school was told with chuckles. Ray enjoyed a ‘punny’ joke as well.
Ray was too young to fight in the WW2, so he trained as a cadet at home. Shortly after his graduation, the soldiers began returning home; unemployment was high and Creston only offered seasonal work. After he spent a few off-seasons doing nothing, Ray’s loving dad knew that his son needed to get on with his life, so he drove the unsuspecting Ray to downtown Calgary and left him on a street corner to figure it out. It didn’t take Ray long to get a job at Waterous Equipment. Through that work, and a transfer to Edmonton, he met the love of his life, Mabel.
Ray and Mabel’s 67-year marriage stood strong through all the ups and downs of life, and they continued to love each other deeply. As parents, they were solidly committed to raising their 3 daughters. Their marriage was built on faith and mutually loved activities. They enjoyed active fellowship in St. Bede’s and St. George’s Anglican churches, and memberships with the Manitoba Theatre Centre, Winnipeg Art Gallery, and Pops Concerts. They took their family on lots of mini-holidays around Manitoba; Grand Beach & Norquay Beach were favourites. In retirement, they enjoyed their monthly trips to Grand Forks and Fargo.
Ray showed his love to his three daughters through his actions; building them backyard ice-skating rinks, teaching them wood-working for their Brownie badges, reading Treasure Island to them under the shade of the apple tree during the heat of summer, repainting second-hand bikes in their colour of choice, and then taking them on bicycle road-tests before unleashing them to the traffic. Later his girls and grandkids all attended the Ray Simmons ‘driving school’; his specialty was teaching parallel parking with his home-made pylons.
Ray was the Yin to Mabel’s Yang. He wore her handsewn neckties to work. When yoga became her passion, Ray learned to do yoga (which kept him mobile until he was 90). He knew his prep-chef role in the kitchen when the grandkids came by for Sunday brunches. When Mabel picked up a hobby of buying/reselling collectables and books, he drove her everywhere. Whenever a family member was looking for a gently used article, Ray & Mabel would hunt it down and deliver it.
Ray had a 41-year career as a dedicated professional. He furthered his education by obtaining his CIM from the University of Manitoba. He retired as Parts and Service Manager for Midwest Detroit Diesel where he oversaw several branches in western Canada. Ray’s enthusiasm for life, learning and family were his mainstays. He was well-read (primarily history, current events, biographies, and science); well-traveled (China, Turkey, Cuba, Bermuda, Hawaii and numerous trips through Britain, Europe, Canada, and USA). Ray’s mind was full of interesting facts and words he could recall with ease and interject into almost any conversation. He would absorb every placard and exhibit in the many museums he visited. In retirement, he up-graded computers for those in need and intently delved into the family genealogy (starting long before Anscestry.com existed), tracing records back to 1020, recording family history in great detail. His love of learning and trying something new were passed on to his girls and we all hold fond memories of his activities with us.
Ray was a kind man, gentle and quiet with a positive outlook that served him well in life. During the last two years of life, he weathered COVID restrictions without complaint even though the isolations separated him from ‘his Love’ and cost him his eyesight and independence. Without his eyesight he depended on others to bring the world to him, and he would listen intently to any current events and science news (especially concerning ecology and the progress of the James Webb Telescope). He welcomed every visitor with a smile and said goodbye with a warm thank you! He sent a video message to Mabel in his last month of life saying that he was coming to see her soon, and she acknowledges that he did exactly that on his way to the next realm (heaven).
Ray was a very grateful man and we know he would like to thank (again!) Gerri, Melissa and Bronson, and Ryan for giving him their hearts, conversations, and story-reading during his long evenings. He would thank his homecare staff (especially Martino, Honor, Jodi, Bella, Marilyn, Edna, Caroline, Maria to name a few), Bonnie, Rob and so many Shaftsbury staff. His final thank you goes to the caring staff at the Victoria Hospital Urgent Care.
Dad, Grampa, Great Grampa, you left each of us a legacy as you lived fully and taught us by your example. The world is a better place for having you in it. We will all miss you but are so happy you have been released from your physical constraints.
A small private family memorial service will be held later. Feel free to donate in Ray’s name to the Salvation Army who gave him a bed on the streets of Calgary, or perform a small act of kindness in his name, in lieu of cards and flowers.
Ronald Moffit Memorial Services of Portage la Prairie in care of arrangements.
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