Ryan Campbell, an engineer and builder, died on July 16th, 2014 with a million dollar view of Burrard Inlet. He was a great man with loving family and countless friends, taken down too young by dengue fever and some other complications more mysterious and unfathomably awful. For months he fought mightily against an infection in his spine; after surgery and many ups and downs he was well enough to come home to the Sunshine Coast and his favourite views over Pender Harbour. After only ten days though, the infection returned with a vengeance. He was declared the ‘sickest man in the Province’ by one curiously dramatic doctor and in the end, after a week in ICU, he decided he’d had enough of tubes and hospitals. Even the best of views of the North Shore mountains and the Inlet out of Vancouver General couldn’t compete with the sunshine and salt air up the coast. He passed as the sun set on a Wednesday night in July.
While he played volleyball as a young man and loved cross-country skiing he was known most for his enthusiasm of the thug’s game played by gentlemen: he encouraged his sons to endanger their lives playing rugby just as he had. Ryan joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1961. Through the tail end of the Cold War he chased Soviet subs in the Atlantic, though we gather he saw more Puerto Rican rum and Caribbean beaches than Vodka and Siberian Tundra. He spent twenty years in the Canadian Armed Forces and rose from the ranks of Ordinary Seaman to LT. Commander/Major before moving on to civilian life. Ryan loved adventuring and travelling, wondering at the magnificent world full of fascinating people who he never failed to engage in conversation, regardless of language competence. His children embraced this love of difference and have explored the world with his enthusiastic blessing. Ryan was genuinely interested in peoples’ stories then re-remembering them, invariably enlarged, embellished, or simply wrong. His eye for well crafted things was acute and deeply appreciative. For Ryan it was always skill and dedication over talent and luck. He crafted life through love and labour and left a world for us to live in. In his last adventures Ryan with Sue – his First Mate and wife of fifty years – built a marvelous beach house on Jaltemba Bay and, as always, laid the foundations for enduring friendships and lasting memories.
He is survived by friends and family and his memory lives on in their hearts and in the many projects he has initiated and generously supported. In his last years he found peace and solace in the Anglican Church. The promise of freedom from the burdens of life and the ultimate and lasting value of love reminded him to pause, to celebrate the sensuous warmth of the sun and the pique of the salt air.
A memorial service will be held at Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church on August 9th at 2pm. In lieu of flowers please send donations to St. Mary’s Hospital, Sechelt or Vancouver General Hospital.
Written by Ryan’s son Craig Campbell