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GEORGE, Richard Lee

May 16, 1950 – Brush, Colorado
August 1, 2017 – Calgary, Alberta

With heavy hearts and ultimate respect, we share news of the passing of Richard Lee George, of Calgary, Alberta on August 1, 2017.

Rick applied his infectious positivity, physical and mental toughness, and determination throughout his life. Rick was born in Brush, Colorado one of three children, siblings Terry (Larry) Shores and Phil (Bonita) George and the son of Betty Lu and the late Albert George. From an early age, Rick loved to compete in a variety of sports – football, lacrosse, baseball, and wrestling. As a devoted and dedicated grandfather, he shared his love for the outdoors and enjoyed skiing, bird shooting, cycling, and fly-fishing. He attended Colorado State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and later, a law degree from the University of Houston Law School. During his graduating year at CSU, he married his best friend and high school sweetheart, Julie G. White, embarking on a 45 year adventurous journey together.

The first 10 years of his career were with Sun Company, where he held various positions in the area of project planning, production evaluation, exploration and production. Rick’s acute business acumen and strategic thinking led the family on a continuous magic carpet ride, which included a move to London, England, where he was managing director of Sun Oil Britain Limited.

In 1990, he and his family made the move to Toronto, where he was appointed President and later President and Chief Executive Officer of Suncor Energy. Over 21 years, he transformed the company from an oil sands pioneer to Canada’s leading integrated energy company, headquartered in Calgary. Whether it was introducing game-changing new technologies, listing the company publicly, championing the creation of the Suncor Energy Foundation, or overseeing the merger with Petro-Canada, Rick’s impact on Suncor and the oil sands industry was profound.

Rick’s expertise and experience as a leading Canadian businessman meant that he was regularly sought out for his perspective. He served as chairman of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, was a member of the North American Competitiveness Council, and was conscious about giving back, serving on a wide variety of community boards and committees. After his retirement from Suncor, he continued to make significant contributions, serving on the boards of Osum Oil Sands Corp, RBC, Anadarko Petroleum, and Obsidian Energy and as a partner at Novo Investment Group.

Rick’s unwavering love and commitment to family continued to be a central focus throughout his life. He was a guiding influence for his children, Zach (Karen Shrive), Matt (Ashleigh Dempster) and Emily (Sebastien Raedemaecker) and derived special joy welcoming five grandchildren, Elle, Chase, Jasper, Stone, Victoria and anxiously awaited the newest George granddaughter.

As we mourn the loss of the man who has inspired our family with love, passion, humour, vision and integrity, we also want to thank our many friends, extended family and business associates for their care and concern. We are forever grateful for the wonderful medical care provided at the Tom Baker, Peter Lougheed and ICU during the time of his AML battle.

Aapii Maakooyii is the First Nations Indigenous name bestowed upon Rick in a traditional honourary pipe ceremony. “White Wolf” will remain in our hearts forever.

A Celebration of Rick’s Life will take place on the 10th Fairway of the Calgary Golf and Country Club on Thursday, August 17, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. Due to limited availability, shuttle service will be provided at the parking lot of McINNIS & HOLLOWAY (Park Memorial, 5008 Elbow Drive S.W.) to transport family and friends to the Celebration of Life. Condolences may be forwarded through www.mcinnisandholloway.com. If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to Gift Funds Canada – 584 George Family Foundation, anne.madden@rbc.com, 403-299-6534.

In living memory of Rick George, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Park Memorial, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W. Calgary, AB, T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Mr. George,
    Please rest in peace. I never have the pleasure of meeting you in person but ever since my first refinery job in Edmonton in 1985, I have heard of the Suncor Fort McMurray operations. At that time, a lot of people thought this facility is unsafe and is “one fire away from shutting down”. Yet in front of my eyes, you managed to transform this the money-losing company into the country’s largest integrated energy company and a darling of TSE.
    I started my own “news cutting” records when I begin my career in NewGrade and Lloydminster Bi-provincial Upgraders and keenly followed your trail blazing, unwavering belief in the oilsands.
    Yes indeed, you are the single most important public figure in the oilsands over the last 30 years. Mr. George, although your life ended far too early but your legacy will endure for generations to come. In my heart, you are Mr. Oilsands.
    Most Respectfully,
    Ed Choy

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  2. John Lawrence Reynolds

    I have met and worked with several CEOs of major industries here and in the U.S. None impressed me as much for his integrity, his resourceful, his wisdom and his down-to-earth character than Rick George. His expressed pleasure at the book that resulted from our collaboration was one of the most satisfying events of my career. All of us in Canada, I feel, have lost a model and a hero.

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  3. Deepest sympathies from Nancy and I on this immeasurable loss. We only met Rick a few times at celebrations of mutual dear friends and but were wrapped immediately into the orbit of his warmth and sincerity. The best of us are often with us for a short visit and leave the most lasting impact. Our deepest condolences.

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  4. Greg Lindsay & Shirley Maxwell

    We were tremendously sad to hear of Rick’s passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to Julie and all the family at this difficult time. Both of us were privileged to work with Rick after he joined Suncor and we got to see first hand the tremendous impact he had on the company, its employees and on our personal retirement lifestyle. I didn’t report directly to Rick but I certainly had enough to do with him to know he was the best boss I had ever seen in my career. He was always calm, reflective, respectful, honest, open to input and always one step ahead of everyone in the room. He was generous with praise, positive, constructive and always shared his sucess with everyone on the team without ego or conceit. He was prepared to make the tough decisions necessary to move Suncor dramatically forward over the decades and provide gainful employment and an enviable retirement lifestyle for thousands of us. His integrity, dignity and sucess as a leader in the industry, as a Canadian and as a family man was widely and rightly recognized. He will be sorely missed but we are all better off for knowing him. Thank you Rick and thank you Julie for sharing him with us.

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  5. Rick’s life story is truly amazing. He accomplished so much and reached out to so many throughout his journey. Condolences to his lovely family. He was a mighty proud husband, father and Grandpa! He will be remembered with gratitude and affection in the Friley family.

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  6. Heartfelt condolences to the George family.
    I was an employee of Suncor Inc. while Mr. George was at the helm of the company (I retired in 2001). Never before, or since, have I met such a gracious man, it was truly an honor to say that I worked for him.

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  7. Kevin and Lori Nabholz

    It was with heavy hearts that we learned of Ricks passing. Having Rick as a boss for 10 years and a leader for 21 years was nothing short of amazing. Rick had a way of motivating individuals and teams to achieve extraordinary things, while behaving in the most calm and respectful manner. My worst days with Rick were when I felt like he was disappointed in me. He treated us so well, that it was painful to let him down. Rick and Julie were amazing mentors and friends to both Lori and I over the years. It is safe to say that the journey with Rick and Julie transformed ours and our children’s lives, and this is true for so many others. We are just one of many individuals and couples that were swept up in the Rick and Julie George journey. Our deepest sympathy to Julie, Zach, Matt, Emily and the rest of the George family.

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  8. Chuck and Norma Miller
    Brush Colo.

    We are so sadden by this news. We as well as everyone in Brush who new Rick and Julie and there families felt honored.
    Good roots make great people. Both Rick and Julies families have very deep roots and both are perfect models. It was an honor to know Rick and admire his success which only comes from dedication, hard work, respect and honesty.
    Strong family values and remembering, where you came from, will get you far in life and both Rick and Julie are perfect role models. Behind every successful man is a better women and this was defiantly the case. Rick’s success reflected the support he had.
    Our sincere thoughts and prayers go out to the family, extended families and all the friends for this lose. There were many special times and memories for all in many different sizes and shapes which will bring nothing but smiles and laughter, which is my cherished memory.

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  9. Julie, sending my sincere condolences on your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.

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  10. Candace Mitzel

    I had the honour of knowing Rick as the leader of Suncor. Simply an amazing man who positively touched the lives of many. My deepest condolences to the family.

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  11. Erin Dolan & Kevin Braum

    We were sad to hear of the passing of Rick. He made us proud to say that we worked for Suncor and that we were part of the Suncor team.
    With a heavy heart we offer our deepest condolences to all of you.

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  12. Irene E. Pfeiffer, C.M.

    The world is a darker place with the passing of Ric. He was a polished professional person who always cared for others. He will be sadly missed. My sincerest condolences to his family and may they be comforted by the words of others.

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  13. Dave and Carol Byler

    Our heartfelt condolences to Julie, Zach, Matt, and Emily on Rick’s passing. Rick’s vision and leadership in his early years at Suncor made the life our family enjoys today possible. His legacy as a businessman is renowned but he was much more than that. When Suncor was growing into one of Canada’s premiere energy companies, Rick never forgot the importance of family, either for himself or his employees. At company events, he publicly recognized the role spouses, partners, and their families played in the success of the company and thanked them for the sacrifices they made. His acknowledgement and appreciation was genuine and sincere. Rick left this world a better place for many, many families and he will be missed.

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  14. Yong and Liz Quek

    Dearest Julie, Zach, Matt and Emily:

    Please accept our deepest condolences on Rick’s passing. We are deeply saddened. At this time we grasp onto happy times with Rick in London, Toronto and that chance meeting in India. He was indeed the finest gentleman. Always a kind word for everyone, always positive and happy. Canada is a better place for his decision to live here. He will be missed and never forgotten.

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  15. Heather and Doug Kennedy

    Julie, please accept condolences from Doug and I. Rick was a giant, a true leader who understood that business is a combination of math, vision and heart and who inspired many every day of his life. I had a chance to spend an afternoon with Rick where he spoke of his family and how much all of you meant to him and how you shaped who he was: he knew how blessed he was to have all of you.

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  16. George and Sheila Watson

    Dear Julie and family
    George and I were so saddened to hear of Rick’s passing. He contributed so much in his life. He was a gentleman in all aspects of his life. We will all miss him. The wonderful memories of him will keep him alive in our hearts and mind.

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  17. Bart and Kerry Demosky

    Dear Julie and family,
    Kerry and I were so sorry to hear of Rick’s passing. Please accept our deepest sympathies and condolences. Not only was Rick a great family man, visionary, leader and a true gentleman, but he was also a mentor and friend to so many who have gone on to achieve success themselves with his support. I consider myself lucky to have worked for him and with him, and to call him my friend. He will be deeply missed.

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  18. Harold and Elaine Lemieux

    Dear Julie and Family,
    I was so sorry to read about Rick’s passing. I know it will be so very hard for you and your family. Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

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  19. Dear Julie and Family,
    Pat and I were deeply saddened by Rick’s passing. While our companies were competitors in theory, the reality was we were friends and compatriots sharing pride in a noble mission of providing products need by all. We also shared a passion for constant technological improvement that enabled that mission to be achieved most efficiently with least environmental impact. Rick’s legacy to both our industry, and our country, is profound.
    Julie, I can only imagine your pain at Rick’s far too early departure from his journey of life. As you prepare to mark the end of your journey together, Pat and I hope that you and your family will take solace in celebrating the life of a loving man who combined remarkable ability with unwavering honesty and caring for all.
    Gwyn Morgan

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  20. I am deeply saddened to hear of your loss. I knew Rick to be a natural leader, and I knew he would be very successful. My heart goes out to you at this time.

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  21. Peter and Eve Willis and Family

    Dear Julie, Zach and Family

    Eve and I, Jodie and Simon were profoundly shocked to learn of Rick’s death and we send our deepest sympathies to you all

    We remember with much fondness our days together in Oakville with Zach and Jodie being at Appleby, as well as a memorable time in Hawaii with you all and Jodie getting your PADI dive certificates together!

    Although our personal paths didn’t often cross after that, we do recall a wonderful lunch together in Calgary and a happenstance meeting one night in aptly named Georgetown,DC for dinner!

    Having read the wonderful condolence tributes to Rick, I can say that all reflect so accurately his acumen, savvy, humility and kindness. On a personal basis, I can honestly say one of the finest experiences I have had in almost 50 years in business was flying with Rick to Ft McMurray and him taking me on a Suncor tour and having lunch, not in an executive dining room, but with “the gang” in the cafeteria. It was obvious that his employees loved him and loved working for and with him.

    We will be with you in spirit and thought on the 17th

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  22. Dear Julie, Our heart aches for you and your family when we heard of Ricks passing. Sending our love and condolences. Pattie and Ron

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  23. Charlene Houston Holzworth, Brush CO

    Dear Julie, I am so very very sorry for your loss. As I read through the condolences, I was struck by the consistency of comments about Rick’s vibrant character and remarkable achievements. His passing is such a loss to so many–certainly that is a testament to his measure as a man.

    May your memories bring strength and comfort, and may tomorrow dawn a better day for you and yours.

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  24. Bonnie MacRae-Kilb

    Julie. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Rick, I felt as if I had. I don’t think it would be possible for a leader in our community and the much larger network, to garner more respect than your soulmate. I remember meeting you on the tennis court in Calgary after you moved here. Your humbled and beautiful spirit shone brightly as you simply stated your were transferred here because your husband worked for Suncor. I later became aware he was indeed the CEO. You and your family are centred in my thoughts and prayers at this most difficult time. I sincerely want you to know how much respect I have for you and Rick. May love, strength and resiliency from within and surrounding you, support and guide you and your family going forward. ❤️❤️❤️

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  25. Dear Julie, Renee and I send our thoughts and prayers to you and your family at this most difficult time. As a classmate, roommate and friend of Rick’s during college, I followed his career over the years. Several years back, I saw Rick on CNBC discussing Suncor’s activities. I followed up with an email to him and we exchanged information about our families. It was great to hear from him – even though I am sure he was extremely busy. Our deepest condolences for you and your family.
    Daniel and Renee Law

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  26. Brent T Christensen

    My sweet Julie and family, Know that our hearts are with you at this difficult time.
    Brent,Margy, and family

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  27. Dear Julie,
    My thoughts are with you. As you know, I mainly saw you all at the family reunions, and I always enjoyed catching up with you and Rick. Even from those brief meetings, one could tell that Rick was a very kind man with a big heart. I wish the best for you and your kids during this difficult time.

    With warm thoughts and prayers,
    Curt

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  28. Claire Crooks and George Goodall

    Dear Julie and Family,
    We are thinking of you all during this difficult time with love. Rick will leave a huge gap behind him, but also a huge legacy through his family and impact on community.
    With love,
    Claire and George

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  29. Sandy Blackburn

    I am so sorry for your loss. I remember Rick fondly from high school. May god bless your family during this difficult time.

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  30. Christine Quinlan

    Dear Julie,
    Thinking of you and sending my deep condolences. Rick had an amazing career, but most of all he was an outstanding person, husband and father. I know he will be so deeply missed by you, Zach, Matt and Emily and all of your family. It was good to have all your wonderful years together, but I’m so very sorry Rick’s life had to end much too soon. The world needs more like him.

    With warm hugs and prayers,
    Chris (Stratton) Quinlan

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  31. Ron and Janice Blakely

    Dear Julie and Family,

    Ron and I were very saddened to hear of Rick’s passing. A fond and lasting memory was meeting you both in Sicily when you were on a biking holiday and we were on a hiking holiday. Please know you are in our thoughts at this time.

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  32. I am honored to have known Rick. He was a humble man and a very down-to-earth person. Remember he said that he would love to join our Lake Louise get away trip but he preferred to spend time with his family especially his young grand children. I still have to look for that best in town croissants pastry shop close by the fouth street that he brought to the office.
    I extend my sincere condolences to his family and to all of you.
    May he rest in peace!

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  33. Dear Julie, Zach, Matt and Emily,
    My deepest condolences to each of you for your loss.
    Clearly Rick was giant in the industry he spent his life in, but as, if not more importantly, he was a remarkable individual with all the attributes we wish everyone had.
    He was an amazing speaker, with a smile that often lit up his audience before he said a word.
    His honesty was so obvious he became instantly trustworthy to those around him, no matter which side of the pro/con industry fence they sat on!
    Losing a loved one is never easy, but it can be tempered a bit by focusing on the times and experiences you each had with Rick that make you smile.
    My heart goes out to each of you, God bless.
    Roger

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  34. I had attended the Celebration of Life for Rick. I am very grateful and thankful to have known such a wonderful and wise man. Rick is an amazing speaker, courageous and generous man. The Celebration on the fairway was so beautiful, words cannot describe. The speakers and songs were perfect in every way. I think of that day often now when in search for wisdom or clarity in life, my deepest condolences for Julie and the family.

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  35. Rick evolved GCOS from a struggling and failing Oils Sands Company “on the brink” to a Great Canadian Success story becoming an Oil Industry leader, and an Icon of Canadian Industry. Thank you Rick for your vision and leadership that created this legacy. As members of your team, we are all proud to have participated in this experience with you and for many of us it was the highlight or our career and resulted n many lasting memories. My sincere condolences and sympathy to Julie and your family.

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  36. Victoria Lehrer

    Dear Julie, I am so sad to hear about your loss of Rick. I’m sure you remember the English’s from Wiggins. Doug told me about Rock’s passing from reading the obituary in the Fort Morgan Times. Earl and I live in Loveland now so I depend on Doug & Joan (Christensen) & Leslie to keep me in the Brush, Fort Morgan & Wiggins loop. Sincerest condolences to you and your family. If you get to Colorado sometime please let me know…Love, Vicki (English) Lehrer

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  37. Hannappel Kathleen

    Such a joyous and wonderful man, my condolences to his family, friends and all the amazing people he worked and met. This wonderful family will always be in my heart. Love Kathy Hannappel.

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  38. Working with Rick was such a special privilege. There are so many great memories and my deepest condolences to family, friends and colleagues. He inspired all of us at Suncor to do things we never imagined we could do. I experienced his deep care for people but also for the environment. We stepped out with a progressive stance on climate change in 1997. With Ricks leadership we always played offence vs defence on environmental performance and innovation.He was always keenly willing to listen to diverse views and that lead him to want to meet even our harshest critics. I recall the AGM when we had a Greenpeace booth! I also had the special opportunity to support his writing of Sunrise in a small way with my input on our time working together on the environment and safety. His courageous leadership on environment and on our Journey to Zero on safety are a great legacy to the company and to the sector. His impact will be understood and appreciated even more over time. The many people who have been inspired by Rick will continue to make a positive difference in the world. Sincere condolences and sympathy and best wishes.
    Gordon Lambert

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