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Ross Davidson.Ted Evans/The Globe and Mail

Ross Davidson: Father. Traveller. Philosopher. Fixer. Born March 31, 1946, in Regina; died July 9, 2018, in Mississauga from T-cell lymphoma; age 72.

All accounts of Ross as a kid was that he was a dreamer and fascinated by cars. His family moved to Winnipeg when he was 12, where he found a group of boys that shared his love of cars and adventure – but not school. By the age of 17, Ross dropped out and spent a decade travelling the world.

After exploring most of Latin America, he ended up in Barcelona, where he signed up to sail a boat to Gambia with his friend, Rod Cheeseman (who would meet him in the Spanish port Algeciras). He learned to crew on the job, and proved his value in being able to fix anything mechanical.

Unfortunately, the borders were closed between Gibraltar and Spain. Upon arrival, Ross was detained for questioning, and was told to leave Spain. At that point, he took another gig as crew on a yacht headed to the West Indies. He finally made it to Gambia (by air) and surprised Rod. They stayed in the country for six months running a tour boat to Senegal with their pet monkey, Suki.

When Ross decided it was time to come home, he enrolled at the University of Toronto as a mature student in 1973 and immersed himself in philosophy. After completing his degree, Ross worked in the offices of Honda Canada. It was a dream job in the automotive industry (he was still crazy for cars) and it would pay the bills (which he really needed now that he had a baby on the way). Ross never forgot that lucky break, and worked hard to build his career, moving up the executive ranks at Jaguar Canada.

Ross was driven and restless, charismatic and handsome. He had many relationships with women, many of them unsuccessful, but always ending on good terms. He married Margaret Shugg in 1977 (mother to Rebecca), and Patty Ann Verboom in 1985 (mother to Kristen, Eric and Emily). His third marriage to Maria Glass in 2009 seemed to stick. He was a dedicated and involved father to all four of his children and was the kind of parent who would get down on the floor to play and wrestle, who drove his children places endlessly and knew how to listen. His love was unconditional and his children knew it.

After Ross retired, he quickly got back to his travelling roots, often on his BMW F650 GS Dakar motorcycle. Just before he was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma, he fulfilled his lifelong dream of a solo motorcycle journey halfway across the African continent. He blogged about the trip, which spanned two months and 10 countries (if you include the Western Sahara).

After he was diagnosed, he offered this advice to his children in an e-mail: “I wish for you to live your lives honestly – true to yourselves and not to others expectations. Negotiate and compromise but only if it does not harm your self-esteem. Integrity should be non-negotiable. I can’t say I have a perfect record but you can never feel good about yourself if you lack integrity.” That was Ross. Walking the talk. Always.

Rebecca Davidson is Ross’s eldest daughter.

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