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FERGUSSON, Alan

February 4, 1934 – Harrogate, Yorkshire
October 15, 2018 – Calgary, Alberta

Alan, beloved husband of Eleanor of Calgary, AB, passed away October 15, 2018 at the age of 84 years while held lovingly by his family.

Dad was born on the 4th of February 1934, the day before the birthday of his Father’s brother after whom he was named. Unfortunately his Father died only 18 months after his birth, so his mother was left as a single parent with a young child to rear – no mean task for a woman in the 1930’s. She must have been quite a competent woman as Dad’s earliest memories are of a five-star hotel, which his mother managed, on the south coast of England and having to be clean and on time for meals, otherwise you went hungry. One absolute rule – on no condition may you ever be rude to any of the staff.

However this idyllic existence was shattered with the start of World War II, the hotel being taken over by the Royal Air Force and the staff all asked to leave.

As a result, Dad and his mother settled in Plymouth. Plymouth was the major city nearby that offered employment opportunities, but unfortunately it was adjacent to the Devonport dockyards and submarine base, which were a tempting target for the Germans. In those days bombs lacked today’s technical skill, with the result of many civilian casualties. In fact, when Dad and his mother left Plymouth for the safer north of England the city was just a pile of rubble with smoke rising from the ashes here and there.

Dad was very fortunate (or his mother was very persistent) as he eventually ended up going to school at Ripon Grammar – a school that was chartered by Phillip and Mary, King and Queen of England in 1555 (except Philip was never King of England). If this conjures up romantic ideas of medieval England, think again. The reality was hard benches with the old inkwells that had to be filled daily, a strict discipline – you stood when a master entered the room and did not sit until he told you to – and 20 minutes of physical exercise before breakfast outside every morning, ending with a half mile run.

On finishing school Dad worked as an apprentice fitter turner and in the evenings studied as an external student at the University of Westminster – eventually winning an open scholarship to Durham University, where, as a full-time student, he took an Honours degree in Physics. He was also secretary of the College Rowing club. (Family note: Dad underplays the sheer grit and determination it took to win this scholarship. Many months of little sleep, mustard and butter sandwiches, working full time, studying on the commuter trains and well into the night and occasionally jumping the train turnstiles to stretch those pennies).

Dad was proud of having designed and built, while a student, a simple device for identifying the radiation spectrum of alpha emitters and hence identifying the compound. It subsequently became a standard piece of equipment for Honours physics students at Durham University.

He subsequently worked for a major Nuclear Engineering company (no, not bombs – nuclear power stations). Dad always had an interest in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and in fact developed the first commercial alpha gauge, capable of measuring the thickness of thin paper while it was being made. No mean feat as the paper was made in a roll about 15 feet wide and travelling at around 400 feet per minute. You catch that when it is running, and you end up buried in an awful lot of paper very quickly. You are also exposed to an interesting commentary on your ancestry by the foreman, followed by a stream of colourful expletives. Those are just some of the hazards of putting research into practice.

Dad was also interested hiking and skiing. He was a member of the Fell and Rock Club of the English Lake District, and also a member of the Austrian Alpine Club. When asked why he rock climbed, he would answer “When you are two to three hundred feet up from the ground, and you look down between your legs, the problems of business dissolve into a more sensible perspective”.

He met Mum while skiing just outside Aberdeen. The first time he invited her out for dinner, she came armed with several chisels. Dad said he wondered if this was a portent that the Aberdeen angus was going to be somewhat overdone that night! (Note from the family: In fact, Mum had planned to go to woodwork class after dinner… she never got to class!).

Shortly thereafter Dad was offered a job in Africa – Northern Rhodesia to be exact. So, for their honeymoon, they sailed from Southampton, to Madeira, onto Ascension Island, then onto Saint Helena, where Napoleon was originally buried, and finally onto Cape Town. From Cape Town, they took the train through the Karoo desert, past the Kimberley diamond mine, and over the Victoria Falls, to Ndola in what was then Northern Rhodesia, and is now Zambia. It was in Zambia that Mum and Dad’s first daughter Alex was born.

Life in Africa was culturally different. Dad said the best compliment he ever received was when he was leaving the post as the head of the adult education for the mine. All the teachers came to his office and the head teacher presented him with two traditional carvings – and the observation that they never knew when he was going to think like a European and when he was going to think like an African.

Africa was politically unstable, and the family returned to Britain. However, the mountains of B.C. were calling. So back in 1966, Dad packed his bag and headed off to Canada in search of employment – flying into Vancouver on a beautiful sunny day when the tallest buildings were the Burrard building and the Vancouver Hotel. Employment was found in Kitimat, B.C. and the family soon followed (where daughter Kim and son Ian were born). Since then, the family again returned to England for 7 years, lived in Thompson Manitoba for 3 years, and finally, the last 38 years in Calgary.

If asked, Dad would probably say his major achievements were:

1. Creating a family in raising our 3 children.

2. Winning the open scholarship to Durham University, and achieving an Honours degree in physics.

3. Abseiling down the walls of Durham castle.

4. Getting a 10% seniors discount from an RCMP officer who stopped him for speeding.

5. Engineering the presentation of the sexy CA award.
______________________________________________

Note from the family: The obituary above was written by Dad. He was nothing if not diligent, and wanted to reduce the burden on us, his family, when he left this world. We would note that he omitted a few accomplishments, the most important of which we feel are:

1. Loving his family deeply.

2. Always retaining a sense of compassion for others, despite the hardships Dad encountered in life.

3. Teaching the value of reaching out to others in need, whether you knew them or not.

4. Maintaining an unyielding determination to persevere, and never more so, than during his 26 year journey with prostate cancer.

5. Founding and running Celt Naturals, with his close friend Jack Davidson, to provide scientifically based support for the human immune system, and in so doing, earning 3 Patents, 20 Trademarks, and 10 Health Canada approved claims. They helped an innumerable number of people with a wide range of health challenges, and thereby positively impacted many lives.

6. Being a recipient of the “Top 7 over 70” award in 2017, while still active in Celt at age 83.

7. Valuing the intangibles in life and gifts they bring us over material possessions or financial accomplishments.

8. Passing from this world with Grace and Humility while facing his ultimate challenge and allowing his family to surround him with love and be part of his journey to Heaven.

In the weeks to come, please honour Dad by doing a kind act for, or a kind gesture to, another. Dad passed surrounded by family, and left this world knowing he was loved and cherished. May he rest in love and peace.

Alan is survived by his wife Eleanor; daughters, Alex Chisholm and her husband Colin Chisholm and children Dirk, Ciara and Cassandra, Kim Narey and her husband John Narey and their daughter Addisen; son, Ian Fergusson and his wife Suzanna Fergusson and their son Justin; cousin, Jean Higham and her daughter Rachael. He is predeceased by his mother, Lillian Fergusson (nee Gibbons); father, James Donald Fergusson; and cousin, Eunice Malloch.

A Celebration of Life will be held at McINNIS & HOLLOWAY (Chapel of the Bells, 2720 Centre Street North, Calgary, AB), on Friday, October 26, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. with a reception to follow. Condolences may be forwarded through www.mcinnisandholloway.com.

The family would like to thank Jack Davidson, members of Zetland 83 Masonic Lodge and the Warriors Prostate Cancer Support Group for many years of friendship and support.

In living memory of Alan Fergusson, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Gerry & Marg Hawley :

    Please accept our sincere condolences on Alan’s passing.
    Alan was a good friend and masonic brother, an intelligent and kind man, and will be greatly missed.

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  2. Margaret Vrielink :

    My thoughts, prayers and love are with you and your family Alex, during this reflective and challenging time.

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  3. Jean & Rachael Higham :

    Our thoughts of Love and Light are with Alan’s Family to help you through this sad time.
    For Alan
    Into the freedom of wind and sunshine
    – We let you go
    Into the dance of the stars and the planets
    We let you go
    Into the wind’s breath and the hands of the star maker
    We let you go
    We love you, we miss you, we want you to be happy
    Go safely, go dancing, go running home.
    Love and Light
    Jean & Rachael

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  4. Thoughts with you.
    Love John

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  5. Shelagh Bailey :

    I was lucky enough to meet Alan Fergusson (along with Jack Davidson) when they were in Ontario representing CELT Naturals to our (then) company Preferred Nutrition. Lovely, soft spoken, funny and kind are how I remember him. My condolences to Alan’s family. What a wonderful story of life!
    With thoughts and prayers.

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  6. Marianne Hladiuk :

    May all your memories bring a smile to your lips until you meet again- then what hugs and merriment!!!! Alex and Colin- you and yours will be in my thoughts and prayers.

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