Dec 22, 1930 – Jan 15, 2018
RAS was a Finn, a forester, and never missed a day of work in his life. He was an avid hunter and skier who travelled widely both for work and pleasure. Wherever he moved, he built a sauna. He was the only child of Matti and Flora, born at Shaunavon, Saskatchewan. They left the small Finnish community of Nummola in 1935 for a farm at Port Kells (Cloverdale) via Butte, Montana. Raymond worked as a shoeshine boy and the family did well farming eggs – “a dollar a dozen during the war.”
He married Phyllis Selander in 1955, they had their first child in 56 and he graduated from UBC Forestry in 57; two more children in 58 and 61. Raymond and Phyllis raised their children in Woss Camp, Vancouver, Boston Bar, Burnaby, Hope and Duncan. They moved to Maple Ridge in 1980 to be close to his mother at Webster’s Corners – a Finnish enclave established about 1905 by settlers who left the utopian community of Sointula on Malcolm Island.
As a family man he was patient, even-tempered, fair-minded and frequently said, “Use your head for more than a hat rack.” Raymond was devoted to Phyllis for 58 years, although he once had to trump her ace when playing bridge. The two travelled extensively for decades. He insisted that his children understand compass directions, know how to identify a Douglas-fir and appreciate the value of work – “Don’t do a half-way job.” He firmly advocated “Initiative and Responsibility.”
Raymond’s lifetime of work in forestry began at 16 as a whistle punk on logging operations. After graduation he worked in forest engineering at Woss Camp, then up and down the Coast and throughout the Interior for decades because “they logged Georgia and Granville a long time ago.” He also worked as a forester in Alaska, Guatemala, St. Lucia, Finland, and Russia, and ran a consulting company, Savo Enterprises, for 35 years. He assisted and mentored students and young foresters in Canada and Finland. In his later years, he focused on urban forestry and small-holdings. RAS finally retired at the age of 85 although continued his Professional Forestry membership until his death – 54 years. Such rare membership of over half a century speaks highly of dedication and love for his profession. He attended the 60th class reunion last fall.
Raymond was known for friendliness, wisdom, kindness, story-telling and a sense of humour, which led to many trusted and valued friendships. He was described as an open-minded model of decency who was intellectually sharp.
He lost his vision in the spring of 2015 and faced blindness with courage, grace and dignity. As a good public speaker, he was often invited to address weddings and funerals. Always active in the community, Ray enjoyed the Breakfast Club, Webster’s Corners Day Committee and was a long-time member of Lions Clubs International. He will be missed.
Raymond died shortly after a diagnosis of cancer. He was predeceased by wife, Phyllis, and survived by children Patricia (Iris), Susan (Henry) and Stephen (Fern); six grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, cousins and pikkuserkku (small cousins) in Canada, US and Finland.
A memorial will be held on April 22 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Scandinavian Community Centre, 6540 Thomas Street, Burnaby. Please, no flowers.
Event will be live-streamed.