Ray and Naomi Simpson Scholarship

This Scholarship is being established from a gift through the will of the late John Raymond Simpson. 

John Raymond Simpson passed away on  August 13, 2004.  He was predeceased by his wife, Naomi in 1985 and is survived by his son, John and daughter-in-law, Eva; his grandchildren, Bart Simpson and wife Linda Desormeaux, Ruth Herdocia, Erick Chacon and Patrick Simpson; and his companion, Marian Grijalva.  A child of the depression, he never forgot the harsh reality of poverty and like so many of his generation, developed determination and resourcefulness, which would ultimately free him from the bonds of economic and cultural want. Ray was born on September 16, 1916 in Strathcona (Edmonton), Alberta to Ada (nee Langman) and John Simpson, young mill workers from rural Yorkshire who had emigrated to Canada in search of a better life. In 1923, the family moved to Santa Monica, California, where Ray grew up, excelling in music, basketball and tennis, having been the youngest member of a U.S. Davis Cup Team ever, when he was selected as an alternate in 1931. The following year, the family returned to Canada, and Ray completed his final year of secondary school at Vic High.

After graduation he worked briefly unloading fish at the old B.C. Packers plant on Ogden Point before securing a job as a musician on the Trans-Pacific Liner Empress of Japan, playing the cello for chamber music in the afternoon and clarinet and alto in the dance orchestra at night. In 1936, with the aid of a scholarship, he was able to enroll at the University of Leeds, from which he graduated in 1939 as a civil engineer. While undergoing minor surgery in England, he fell in love with one of his nurses, Naomi Seddon, and the couple married in September, 1939. Then, of course, came the war; Ray was put to work building subterranean ammunition dumps until, in 1943, he was sent to British Guiana (now Guyana) to construct marine defenses against an expected invasion of South America which never materialized.

After the war, Ray, Naomi and their young son settled in Victoria. Ray went to work for the Provincial Government, rising to the position of Senior Structural Engineer, a capacity in which he served for many years. He built many of the familiar structures in the province, including the Douglas Building, the Victoria Law Courts and Government House. On several occasions, he was offered the position of Deputy Minister of Public Works, but he preferred to remain a working engineer rather than become a bureaucrat. Ray was a master craftsman, whose exquisite period furniture and lamps grace many Victoria homes. He was also a knowledgeable collector of antiques and a shrewd philatelist.

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