Ray East Sigsworth “Siggy” age 88 from Nanaimo passed away on March 18 2019 from an aggressive brain tumor.
Ray was born on the 26th of March in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 1930. He and his parents father, Robert C Sigsworth and mother Blanche Marie, moved around a lot when Ray was a child. They lived in Biggars, Coombs, Sioux Lookout, Fort William, Vancouver, and Saskatoon all before age 20 which made for a mischievous, adventuresome, child and later adult.
Ray had a little brother, Gary C. Sigsworth, who came along when he was 12 years old. Much to his initial excitement for a baby brother he was soon dismayed to learn babies take a lot of mommy time and attention that Ray wasn’t used to sharing. Around that time Ray was shot in the eye with a bb gun while trying to play with the bigger kids. (They got in trouble, but so did he.)
He didn’t lose the eye, but it was badly damaged, limiting his vision. He had the first cornea transplant operation in Canada. It didn’t work, but set the stage for doctors to discover what would work for others in the future.
While living in Saskatoon he was accepted and went to a prestigious art school in Vancouver. Unfortunately because of a bad car accident he could no longer properly use his left arm, forcing him to become right handed like the other 90% of the world’s population. But Ray did go on to find an artistic outlet when he was hired to be the window dresser for the Hudson Bay in Saskatoon. During his younger years Ray always expressed a love and passion for cars that continued throughout his life. He was mechanically inclined and was always tinkering as a backyard mechanic.
In Saskatoon he met and worked for George Ward, who gave him a job working for Parks and Recreation running a public pool and fixing equipment. There he met Edna J. Ireland, who he always referred to as “a gutsy lady.” After flirting for 3 years they decided to date for a year during which they discovered both had a love of people and swimming. Ray and Edna found this love to be enough to form a marriage, we are sure they had other reasons too.
Shortly after they married the two moved to Europe for three months, but stayed for three years. After arriving there with limited funds Ray returned to the apartment to announce he had “acquired” a broken Lambretta scooter for them leaving everyone to wonder. He soon had it up and running and would continue to keep it running soundly during their European travels.
Ray’s intelligence and ability to excel at many things including his knowledge of European cars encouraged him to bluff his way into a multitude of different jobs. He was an efficiency expert for a large factory, managed the downstairs bar in the Chandos pub in St. Martins square, and as a mechanic for exclusive high end cars.
While living in England they worked and saved money to drive around Europe on their scooter. His easy smile and way with people saw them making friends wherever they would go whether they spoke the language or not.
During their European travels they went to Rome to attend the 1960 Olympics. While there Ray decided he wanted something special as a remembrance of the Olympics. He shimmied up the flag pole and took one of the official flags and then was bold enough to take it to a couple different Olympic villages to have the athletes sign it. (He loved that flag)
Once back in Canada they moved to Drumheller where the two adopted a baby boy, Terrance Ireland Sigsworth. From there they moved to Edmonton and Ray worked for Bavarian Motor Works as a “head mechanic.” While living in Edmonton they decided to have the two most awesome baby girls ever, Alice-Marie Sigsworth, and Blanche-May Sigsworth (now you know who is writing this bio). Shortly after the birth of his twins Ray went back to school to become a teacher. He originally was teaching math and science, but an opportunity appeared to teach automotives at Harry Ainlay high school and he jumped at it. He quickly went from teaching automotives to head of the department and eventually switching high schools where he had an auto shop built to his specifications. During Ray’s 25 plus years as a teacher he encouraged and mentored as many students as possible. Many of those students had to be shocked into seeing things his way. Ray enjoyed being the person that people came to for advice and guidance and that showed in his teaching style.
He used to say “You can ask for advice, but it still has to be your decision. You are welcome to choose, but this would be my choice.”
While teaching and his children were his first love, (he separated from Edna), his sailboat and dog Brutus were a very close second. Upon retiring Ray moved to Nanaimo and did nothing that resembled retirement. His house was always open for his students fielding visits, phone calls, and emails. He bought and worked on restoring an old Jaguar, as well as buying one for himself. He owned or worked on a Porsche, silver shadow Rolls Royce two MG midgets, and a Mazda Miata. Ray also did tune ups for all the neighbors. He enjoyed winter trips to Las Vegas for several years during which he would build magic props and see Vegas shows.
Ray never stopped teaching, when his grandchildren came around. He adored teaching them everything from math to welding (not the best thing to teach a 6 year old, for which Blanche was not happy). Ray believed in passing on his knowledge to his grandchildren.
Throughout Ray’s life he did many daredevil things that would be considered questionable in today’s world. Like driving his motorcycle across the Capilano suspension bridge, more than once.
He had a life well- lived full of adventure and curiosity. That life was curtailed when he suffered a life changing stroke two years ago. In February 2019 Ray was diagnosed with a brain tumor that ultimately took his life. He was surrounded by family and is missed everyday.
Love you Dad,
You were a great Father, Brother, Grumpa, Uncle, Husband, Mentor, and Friend
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