Engineer, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, veteran, lover of puzzles and cookies. Born Feb. 18, 1920, in Banff, Alta., died March 29, 2012, in Nanaimo, B.C. of bladder cancer, aged 92.
Grandpa, Grandpa Ron, Great Grandpa, Guppies; these are a few of the terms of endearment that described Ron Phillips.
Born in Banff, Alta., one of three children of Charlie and Jessie Phillips, Ron grew up in Lake Louise.
Living in a national park during the early 1920s was an adventure – starting with having a tepee as his first home.
Ron and his brother Sid showed their resourcefulness by collecting coal that fell from passing freight-train cars to use in the fire for cooking and heating. Playtime was riding the Canadian Pacific Railway snowplows, chasing trains, hiding in them (and falling out) or hiking up the mountain located in the backyard.
Ron graduated from the University of Alberta in 1942, one of a class of six earning a bachelor of science in electrical engineering.
He went to work in Peterborough, Ont., for Canadian General Electric. However, because of the war, he was asked to return to the university to help train RCAF technicians. During this time, Ron joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve as an electrical sub-lieutenant, completed basic training in Cornwallis, N.S., and returned to Edmonton to take over the administration and teaching of naval courses at the U of A.
Ron married Jacqueline Grace King on May 15, 1944. They had four children: Keith, Susan, Brian and Elizabeth.
Ron and Jackie raised remarkable kids who matured into successful, family-oriented, adults. Ron considered education to be of immense value. He was proud to see all of his children achieve university degrees in their chosen fields.
The United Church of Canada was central to Ron’s Christian beliefs. Nothing tested his faith more than when Jackie developed dementia. Ron supported his ailing wife with a quiet acceptance and support until her death in October, 2005.
In recognition of his unique perspective and approach, he was called upon to speak to dozens of caregivers and professional groups about his experience.
In June, 1985, Ron retired from the university after a 44-year career that included serving as vice-president of planning and development. As a tribute, the board of governors named the new university services building the R. E. Phillips Services Building.
Ron visited his hometown for the last time in summer of 2011. On a family camping excursion, he had a chance to share stories about his childhood in Lake Louise.
In his last years, Ron enjoyed the company of his friend Doris. Together they completed hundreds of complicated puzzles at their seniors’ home.
Ron was a true Canadian; a man we will forever admire, respect and dearly miss.
Travis J. Schultz is Ron’s grandchild and Jennifer is Travis’s wife.