Raymond Donald Knight, of Calgary, passed away peacefully with his family at his side at the Foothills Hospital on Friday evening, July 14, 2006 at the age of 82 years.
Ray’s birth not having been registered, he later chose January 12, 1924 as his birthdate, his coming into the world having taken place on the family farm at Crossfield, AB during a series of severe snowstorms. With Ray’s mother’s passing at Stroud, Oklahoma in 1926, he lived with relatives in that state for three years, and was later brought home to Alberta by his maternal uncle, Johnny Wooliver. During the great depression of the 1930’s, Ray attended the Goderich School east of Crossfield. He was raised working with threshing gangs, herds of cattle, teams of horses and driving alone as a heavy-haul truck driver at age thirteen for his father Robert and paternal uncle Walter. In the impressionable years of his youth, Ray was taught to ride bucking horses by his uncle, legendary World Champion bronc rider Pete Knight, the acclaimed “King of the Cowboys” of the 1930’s. In these and all other endeavours, he excelled.
With the coming of World War II, Ray and his older brother Pete drove trucks for “Pop” Wilson Construction Company, contracted in 1942 to build the Medicine Hat – Lethbridge highway, and war-emergency airfields in the Caribou-Chilcotin and at Port Hardy, Vancouver Island. Under the authority of the NRMA act, Ray was conscripted into the Royal Canadian Artillery, qualifying as an anti-aircraft Bofors gunner at A-23 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and as a Driver-Mechanic at S-8 Hamilton, ON. Volunteering one year after his induction into the army for overseas duty, he went to war as an Oerlikon gunner on the SS Nieuw Amsterdam, later qualifying as an Observer with 665 Air Observation Post Squadron, RCAF. While “crewing” with Captain Ray Irwin of Ottawa, Pilot and Observer were credited with having fired the last Canadian shot in Europe at Dunkirk, France on May 7, 1945. He served in General Eisenhower’s Headquarters at Frankfurt, Germany, and later, with 666 Air Observation Post Squadron, RCAF, based at Apeldoorn, Holland. One of Ray’s flying officers in Holland was Captain James Doohan, who later became famous as Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott – “Scotty” of the original Star Trek television series. For his loyal military service to Canada, Ray was awarded the France and Germany Star, the Canadian Voluntary Service Medal, and the 1939-1945 War Medal, and from the Government of the Netherlands, the Medal for the Liberation of Holland.
Returning to Canada in 1946, Ray became business partners with his uncle Walt, purchasing a ranch northwest of Cochrane, AB and raising cattle under the half-diamond Y K brand. Members of the Old Time Range Men’s Association of Southern Alberta fondly remembered Ray, sixty years after he had sold his holdings near Dartique Community Hall. He was employed by Sam Hashman Construction Company for three years. While also working as a deliveryman for Western Grocers of Calgary, Ray met Florence Androsoff at that firm and the happy couple married on June 21, 1952. After farming for three years in Northern Saskatchewan with relatives, Ray and Florence purchased a small farm at Allingham, AB and registered the C U Bar cattle brand. In the summertime, Ray and Florence took their growing family to Banff and Radium, on fishing trips to the Medicine River and on long highway trips to British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas…to maintain family ties. In 1970 Ray and Florence moved their family to Calgary, while managing their land holdings from their city home. He was known to four generations of cowboys, range men and farmers across the breadth of western Canada and Ray became a founding member of Canada’s Rodeo Hall of Fame and Historical Association in 1981. He worked for Prairie Farm Assistance for two years and several more years as a Farm and Ranch Realtor with Toole-Peet Real Estate Company of Calgary. Ray was quiet, thoughtful and a quick study in affairs pertaining to the farming, land and cattle businesses. He enjoyed planting trees and shrubs in his own backyard. Ray always had a gentle, loving interest in his family and was a great provider to all who knew him, he was a rock we all leaned on through difficult times. Ray maintained friendships with a veritable “army” of retired framers, cabinet makers, tilers, plumbers, house painters and electricians, all of whom would drop what they were doing to come and work with him, at a moment’s notice. His apparel was of conservative taste, he enjoyed driving to distant destinations and insisted on owning and operating safe, dependable, well-maintained personal automobiles.
Ray is survived by his loving wife and best friend, Florence of fifty-four years, sons and their spouses Ken and Olga Knight, Darrell and Barbara Knight; daughter Linda Knight; grandchildren Shawn, Jessica, James, Sara, Marian, Hunter, Carolina, River, Arthur and Ken; great-grandchildren Michaela, Jasmine and Julian. He is also survived by his sisters Verna Scott and Doris (Larry) Williamson; brother Donald (Kay) Knight; sisters-in-law Viola Knight and Sylvia Knight; brothers-in-law Ken Hagel and Lawrence (Roberta) Androsoff; Antonietta (Johnny) Hurtubise and many cousins, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his mother Anna (Wooliver) Knight, brothers Bob, Pete, Bill and Lawrence, sister Beverly Hagel and an unnamed younger infant sister as well as his parents Robert and Anna (Bouffard) Knight.
Those wishing to pay their respects may do so at McINNIS & HOLLOWAY’S Chapel of the Bells (2720 Centre Street North) on Tuesday, July 18, 2006 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Funeral Services will be held at McINNIS & HOLLOWAY’S Chapel of the Bells (2720 Centre Street North) on Wednesday, July 19, 2006 at 1:00 p.m. Graveside Service to follow at Crossfield Cemetery Forward condolences through www.mcinnisandholloway.com.
In living memory of Ray Knight a tree will be planted at Fletcher Park, Airdrie by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES Chapel of the Bells, 2720 CENTRE STREET NORTH. Telephone: (403) 276-2296.Print This Obituary & Condolences