LUMBY - Ray Smyth put his heart into everything he did, whether it was volunteering at the soup kitchen, building a house or working at a small sawmill in Lumby.
Born in Sherbrooke, Quebec in the 1950s, Ray spent his youth playing football with his buddies, and eventually followed a calling to B.C.
“He always wanted to move out west, to get away and try something new,” his daughter Ashley Renton says.
Logging work eventually brought him to the North Okanagan, where he lived for the past 30 years. His passions were the outdoors; fishing, hunting and mining for gold were often where you’d find him in his time off, or when he wasn’t busy driving Ashley to swimming practice at 5 a.m.
“He always put us first. He worked long hours but always made us a priority,” she says of herself and stepbrother Ryan.
About a year ago, Ray started working at a small sawmill operation on Bell Avenue in Lumby.
“It started off as a hobby between him and another gentleman,” Ashley says. “He had his heart and soul in it. That’s just how he does it, he doesn’t just do things necessarily for a job, he does it because he cares about what he’s doing and it makes him happy.”
Ray was working at the sawmill the morning of Jan. 27 when he was fatally injured. Police, the coroner and WorkSafe B.C. are investigating his death. None have released any findings on what happened.
“He’ll be remembered as a kind-hearted person, who was hardworking and always wanted to help people,” Ashley says.
Most recently, Ray was living with his best friend and roommate, Nadine Sheedy. When he wasn’t working, she says Ray enjoyed volunteering his time at the Lumby Thrift Store and the Upper Room Mission in Vernon.
“He had a soft spot for people who struggled in life,” Nadine says.
He even had a dream of buying the old Spruce Grove cafe and campground on Highway 6 and turning it into a recovery home for people with addictions, Nadine says.
In recent months, he also talked about moving to Langley to live with his fiance. The pair met online, and Ray was looking forward to someday travelling to Africa, where she is from.
“He was looking forward to going there, visiting her family, and seeing what life was like in Kenya,” Nadine says.
He didn’t plan on working at the sawmill for much longer — in fact his daughter just received his pension application a few days after his funeral. He was 64.
“He was just planning his retirement,” Ashley says.
Donations can be made here to assist the family with funeral expenses.
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