July 13, 1937 – Treherne, Manitoba
September 15, 2018 – Calgary, Alberta
It is with immense sadness we announce that Clay Riddell, 81, passed over to the other side on Saturday September 15, 2018 in Calgary, AB from the arms of his close family. Clay was predeceased by his beloved wife Vi of 49 years. Clay/Dad/Papa will be lovingly remembered by his eldest daughter Lynne, his daughter Sue, son-in-law Mike Rose and grandsons Brendan, Jeremy and Aidan, his son Jim, daughter-in-law Jo-Ann, grandson Tyson, granddaughter-in-law Sofi, granddaughter Madison and grandson Jackson, and his daughter Brenda, son-in-law Derek O’Neill and grandsons Cooper and Jimmy. Clay will also be lovingly remembered by his special partner Maria-Liisa Barnby, and children and grandchildren Marcie and Neil MacKimmie (Ben and Layla), and Mark Barnby and Sara Haid (Taj). We all live in deep gratitude for his love and being.
Clay Riddell was born on a farm near Treherne Manitoba, the surprise son of Cecil Howard Riddell and Bertha Maude Taylor and younger brother of Evelyn (Hillcoff) and Lillian (Kerr). After losing the family farm during the depression years, the family eventually moved to Winnipeg and Clay witnessed first-hand that embracing opportunity and applying some hard work and ingenuity to it seemed to ‘make everything work out’.
Clay earned a B.Sc. in Geology from the University of Manitoba. His first summer jobs in northern Manitoba, where he worked as a camp attendant and cook, set up his love of exploration and the north. He graduated in 1959 and moved to Edmonton to begin his career in the oil and gas industry from which he never retired. He started out as an exploration geologist with The Standard Oil Company of California in 1959. Clay spent many summers mapping surface geology in the Northwest and Yukon Territories, gaining valuable field experience that is rarely acquired today. By 1969 the entrepreneurial spirit in Clay took over and he left Chevron to start his own business, C.H. Riddell Geological Consultants Ltd. In 1971 he incorporated Paramount Oil & Gas Ltd., a private oil and gas company and in December 1978 the assets accumulated were put into a public company, Paramount Resources Ltd.
Purely just driven to ‘build something worthwhile’, Clay’s vision and entrepreneurial spirit built a company now celebrating its 40-year anniversary and his legacy can be seen in every element of the Canadian oil patch. He pioneered exploration techniques in northeastern Alberta, discovering and bringing on stream over a trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That same vision, drive and love of the north led Paramount to activities in the Cameron Hills, Liard, Colville Lake and Mackenzie Delta areas of the Northwest Territories where he was proud of the mutually respectful relationships forged with local communities that benefitted everyone and got things done. And as the industry evolved, Clay continued to be a pioneer, always setting up for the exciting opportunities yet to come. Clay, through Paramount, managed to grow and compete successfully with the giants in the industry, exploring, developing, producing and marketing Canada’s precious hydrocarbon resources while maintaining a controlling interest in Paramount Resources. Throughout his 60-year career, he unselfishly stepped in to lead industry on many fronts, both formally and informally, transitioning to free markets and helping regulators and politicians make informed decisions on many important issues that have shaped the Canadian oil and gas industry and undoubtedly Alberta and Canada’s prosperity.
Clay had a calm efficiency in his way of being that allowed him to transition within every day to include all the things that were important to him. He rarely missed his weekly curling night tradition for close to 40 years and embraced his golf games where winning a toonie brought him huge pleasure. It was that quality of just being ‘one of the guys’ in everything he did which made him truly special and in a class all his own. His kids and his grandkids were his number one priority. He was ever-present as a coach or just a fan at all things important, somehow fitting everything in, encouraging, caring and deeply present in each moment.
For all of those he so humbly touched, it is his family that was his greatest source of joy. His most special times were spent with Vi, and then Maria-Liisa, his children and his grandchildren. His lessons came by living example. When Vi passed six and a half years ago, Clay made a choice to continue to live life to the fullest, a lesson that we all will embrace and cherish. Memories are created when you spend time together and love and laugh and we have countless joyful moments to cherish from golf courses to ice rinks to ski hills to horse shows to Makena sunsets and beaches, beautiful meals shared and journeys around the world chasing adventures and our favorite sports teams, including the Flames.
Clay cared deeply about making a difference to his family first, his friends, his profession, his community, his country and simply to humanity. He became a co-owner of the Calgary Flames in August 2003, when the team was in need of stability, not because it was a good investment but because he believed it was good for Calgary. He was also instrumental in bringing the PGA Champions Tour event, the Shaw Charity Classic, to Calgary in 2013, benefitting hundreds of thousands of Alberta children over its six-year run. He loved to partner with inspiring people with a great idea and the motivation and talent to make it happen and see it through. His business and philanthropic contributions were many and varied; always trusting in the ability of the teams he had the privilege to become part of to make the world a better place. The world is definitely a better place because of Clay Riddell.
A memorial celebration will be held at First Alliance Church, 12345 – 40 Street S.E., Calgary on Monday September 24, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. Guests are invited to stay for a reception to follow. Condolences may be forwarded through www.mcinnisandholloway.com.
Our family wishes to extend our sincere appreciation to all the medical and nursing staff on Unit 61 at the Foothills Hospital for their professional and compassionate care during his stay. If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, 2888 Shaganappi Trail N.W., Calgary, AB T3B 6A8, Telephone: (403) 955-8818.
In living memory of Clay Riddell, 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.Print This Obituary & Condolences