Ray Pomeroy

Obituary of Ray Pomeroy

Ray Pomeroy was born in Wellington, New Zealand on April 30, 1937. Born that day was a soul of great inquisitiveness. He spent his youth in Wellington conducting wild chemistry experiments, playing saxophone in the high school band and cultivating his lifelong love for jazz. Upon graduating from the University of Wellington, Ray responded to an ad from the Canadian government recruiting teachers to British Columbia. In 1960, he boarded a ship and ended up in Trail, a small town in the East Kootenays. He taught grade six and for unknown reasons, the transplanted Kiwi who couldn+óGé¼Gäót even skate coached a kid+óGé¼Gäós hockey team. A love for hockey was born. While on a trip to Europe, Ray met his first wife. After living in Wales for a year with a newborn struggling to make a living, Ray felt the call of Canada again and settled in Creston for a period of 13 years. Never shying away from a challenge, he took on the drama department of Prince Charles Secondary School. He turned the drama department into a success; the plays he directed won many awards at adjudicated competitions throughout the province. More importantly, many young people from troubled backgrounds were forever changed by his efforts. After leaving Creston in 1976, Ray went to work as a school counselor in Clearwater and Kamloops BC. His career in education culminated with his completing a doctoral thesis in child psychology and becoming school psychologist for the Greater Victoria School District for a period of 12 years. After retiring, Ray remarried and moved to Florida. He spent his remaining years travelling to various parts of the world, cruising the Caribbean and returning to Victoria to visit family and friends. Ray is survived by his wife Tina of 22 years; his three children, Mark, Susan and Hugh; and his four grandchildren, Matthew, Sayaka, Audrey and Justin James. A unique and great spirit will be greatly missed. Memories of Dad: A Son+óGé¼Gäós Perspective on Ray Pomeroy My dad was born in Wellington, New Zealand on April 30, 1937. Born that day was an inquisitive soul who came to love jazz, psychology, drama, and sports. Dad spent his youth, like he would the rest of his life, doing what most others wouldn+óGé¼Gäót think of doing. Dad was a gifted student with a keen interest in chemistry. The combination of which led to a few spectacular results: one included the blowing out of all the neighbors windows. Until he had them later removed, I remember when I was a kid Dad had scars all over his legs from the misdeed. In school Dad was a saxophone player in the Lower Hutt High School Band. The last I visited with my dad+óGé¼Gäós sister, Helen, she told me how handsome he looked in his band uniform marching on the fields of his school. Later Dad was a member of the Royal Airforce Band in New Zealand. My uncle Len told me that the band would fly to various parts of New Zealand in a vintage World War II bomber. I don+óGé¼Gäót know if that was the time he developed a fear of flying, but I am certain it was the time he developed a love for playing the saxophone and listening to jazz. I imagine that Dad and his best friend, Gary Mutton, must have been the only beatniks in New Zealand in the 1950s. The bearded pair used to walk the mid-summer beaches of Wellington wearing large duffle coats and jauntily tipped berets, all the while smoking pipes. Dad told tales of his younger, cooler brother Len turning in horror when the older brother and his best mate came marching down the beach. One of my uncle Len+óGé¼Gäós mates stared at the two in amazement and asked Uncle Len if he knew who those guys were. Uncle Len said +óGé¼+ôNo, I don+óGé¼Gäót know who they are.+óGé¼-¥ After terrorizing his younger brother, Dad and Gary would retreat to cafes to listen to jazz, drink coffee and play chess. I always remember Dad telling me that Gary would order a steak raw at a restaurant. Dad never had a bad word to say about his life in New Zealand, but there were troubles in his home life that I believe led him to study psychology at university, work in a mental hospital and ultimately a life far away in Canada. When he was in school, he had studied about Canada and developed a fascination for the place, so when he heard of the Canadian government recruiting teachers to British Columbia, the new graduate from the University of Victoria in Wellington with an Honours Psychology Degree got on a passenger ship and took a two-week voyage the length of the Pacific to start a new life in a part of the world very far from home. In 1960, Dad ended up in Trail, British Columbia, a small town in the eastern part of BC in a region known as the Kootenays. To get there from the port in Vancouver, Dad had to take a 10-hour bus ride through the mountains. The first time the bus pulled over for a break somewhere in the wilds, Dad was excited at seeing snow for the first time in his life. He thought it only natural to go and jump in it. Being a snow novice, he didn+óGé¼Gäót know that depending on the time of the year snow can be anything but light and fluffy. The type he jumped into had thawed and then refrozen and being close to the road was filled with gravel. He returned to the bus bloodied and bruised and humiliated as he walked down the aisle of the bus passing all the Canadians who knew better. Dad never liked snow again, and over the years did what he could to get away from it. Dad ended up teaching grade six in Trail. Trail was a company town and the Cominco smelter dominated the landscape. Like all other small towns in Canada, hockey was central to the community. In 1961 the mighty Trail Smoke Eaters defeated the world at the IIHF World Championships. Dad told me how he and the neighbors listened to the games on the radio and then watched the parade of firetrucks that carried the team+óGé¼Gäós members on their return. I think this time sparked his love for hockey. He even ended up coaching a kids+óGé¼Gäó team. I don+óGé¼Gäót know how a transplanted Kiwi who couldn+óGé¼Gäót skate ended up coaching a team. Dad taught the year in Trail and in the summer he and a colleague went off to Europe backpacking. On this trip he met his first wife Ann, a Welsh girl on holidays in Belgium. After returning to Canada, Dad starved himself nearly to death so that he could save up enough money to go to Wales at the Christmas break and get married. He and his new wife returned to Trail and Mom became pregnant with me. Mom wasn+óGé¼Gäót happy in Trail; she was thousands of miles away from home, horribly homesick, so Dad agreed to return to Wales and try to make a life there. Dad couldn+óGé¼Gäót find the work he wanted in Wales, and he felt for the call of Canada again. In 1963, Dad ended up in Creston, BC, another small Kootenay town settled between the Purcell and Selkirk mountain ranges. It was there that my younger sister Susan was born in 1967 and my younger brother Hugh in 1968. Creston was a mill town and that meant logging, so nothing was more important than the surrounding forests. Dad learned just how important while one day on his summer vacation the transplanted New Zealander got shanghaied from a bar to go fight forest fires. Gone for two weeks somewhere in the bush around Creston, Dad was out on the line digging trenches and putting out fires. He got so filthy that he wouldn+óGé¼Gäót put a blanket over him at night because he smelled so horribly. One of his favourite stories from the time was seeing a bear running out of the woods with its ass on fire. While out fighting the fires, Dad met a troubled young man named Gary Smith who was well-known around town for all the wrong reasons. Dad+óGé¼Gäós job at Prince Charles Secondary School was teaching drama. Dad simply started talking to Gary about of all subjects, drama. It sparked an interest in the young tough. After meeting Dad, Gary came to drama classes and it was discovered that Gary was actually a gifted actor. Gary took on many lead roles in the musicals that Dad put on every year for the community. The drama club would travel around the province to take part in adjudicated competitions, as well. Dad+óGé¼Gäós productions won a lot of awards. Our TV room in the basement was filled with trophies and many of the trophies won went to Gary Smith for best actor. Gary finished high school and turned his life around. Were it not for meeting my Dad, Gary+óGé¼Gäós fate was not good. Teaching drama in the Kootenays in the 60+óGé¼Gäós and 70+óGé¼Gäós was not an easy task. Dad+óGé¼Gäós students in the drama club tended to be the Gary Smiths of the school, not the straight and narrow kids who played in the school band and on the sports teams. Yet no band or sports team could match the accomplishments of the PCSS Drama Club. I+óGé¼Gäóve always had a deep respect for what Dad accomplished there. Later in his career at Creston, Dad started teaching psychology and the ever restless Ray Pomeroy started looking around for new career opportunities. Leaving Creston in 1976, Dad put his psychology degree to work. It meant moving to a very remote part of British Columbia, Clearwater, up in the Caribou region. Dad worked for the school board travelling around to various schools in far flung parts of the district counselling kids with emotional difficulties and special needs. After working in Clearwater for a couple of years, Dad found work in Kamloops, a larger center south of Clearwater in the Okanagan. He worked at the Riverside School, a school for kids with challenges. Dad enjoyed his work and the communities he worked in, but he needed to get away from snow. Too many times his car had been stuck, too many times he had to bother with putting chains on the car, and a few years before he had taken an unexpected ride on his backside down our long driveway in Creston. He set his mind on moving to Victoria. We moved to Vancouver Island to the city of Victoria in 1979. Dad was so pleased to be living in a larger centre not having to worry about 5 months of snow and cold. In Victoria he reached the heights of his professional career. He started as a counsellor for the school district and eventually landed the job he had always wanted +óGé¼GÇ£ school psychologist. During these years he finished his doctoral thesis and started a brand new association: the Child Psychologists Association of BC. In Victoria, Dad continued to pursue his interests in jazz and drama. An active member at the Langham Court Theatre, his directorial highlight was putting on Joe Orton+óGé¼Gäós Entertaining Mr. Sloane. As always, Dad did what was different. The Langham Court Theatre is a rather staid company in the heart of a wealthier area of Victoria. They were used to putting on Jane Austen or Agatha Christie. It was a bit of a shock to have an edgy Joe Orton play with minimalist sets, and a small number of cast members. However, the play got strong reviews in the local paper and was a success. Dad also had a couple of memorable acting roles at Langham Court +óGé¼GÇ£ one as a butler in a murder mystery and the other as the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz. In the local reviews Dad was named a highlight of both productions. Also in Victoria, Dad took up fishing. He and my brother Hugh used to fishing on a charter boat and jig for cod. Nothing made them happier than when one of them caught a fish, under any circumstance. One day Hugh caught a very nice salmon, not from the boat, but down at the breakwater a few blocks from our house. He rushed home with it and Dad couldn+óGé¼Gäót have been more proud. Eventually, Dad got so into fishing that he and his friend from New Zealand, Blue, went in on first one and then another larger boat. Many weekends were spent off the coast of Victoria trolling for salmon. I don+óGé¼Gäót know if they were all that good at it, but Dad loved going out on the boat with his friends. Dad and I were devout Vancouver Canucks fans. We watched their first ever game in 1970 in the basement of our home in Creston. If the games weren+óGé¼Gäót on TV, Dad was rigging all kinds of wiring to get the radio signal of the game into the remote Creston Valley. For 12 years the Canucks did nothing but lose. Nonetheless, Dad was ever optimistic each year that they would win the Stanley Cup. In 1982, Dad got into his first hockey pool when the Canucks made the playoffs. Sitting around the table and drafting players, my ever the optimist Dad was the laughing stock of the group as he was choosing mostly Canucks. Nobody thought the Canucks would last long in the playoffs. The next two months were the most glorious time we had as Canuck fans together. The Canucks got all the way to the finals, but lost in 4 straight. Dad cleaned up in the hockey pool and it no longer matters that they lost in the end. It was a great time for the both of us. Sadly the Canucks have gotten very close a couple of times since and Dad never got to see a cup in Vancouver. But the time we shared jumping around in the TV room upstairs in our house in Victoria is my favourite Canucks moment with my Dad. After the end of his first marriage, Dad looked for something new to take on. He settled on bridge. For years he had talked about playing the game, and in the late 80s it seemed a good option for him. He took on the game and started going to tournaments and it was at a bridge camp in Boone, North Carolina that he met his second wife, Tina. Luckily for Dad he found Tina and bridge when he did because in the early 90s he suffered a stroke and had to take early retirement. In 1993, Dad married Tina and moved to Florida. Even the mild winters in Victoria were getting to him at this point. The warm weather, Tina+óGé¼Gäós care, and her wonderful family made for the best possible situation for Dad to live out his remaining years. Florida was home, but Dad and Tina went on many cruises in different parts of the world. Tina told me how much he loved cruising because of the great food, the shows and the activities. Dad loved to win the trivia or name that tune games, but he wasn+óGé¼Gäót quite so happy when he lost. Whenever the ship stopped at a port, Dad made sure to add to his growing collection of T-shirts. Whenever I came to visit him in Florida, he would proudly wear his latest acquisitions. We lost Dad on Monday, November 30, 2015. In these few pages I haven+óGé¼Gäót come close to covering all that he did. There are so many more stories to tell. I+óGé¼Gäóm so proud of my Dad for all he accomplished. I am so happy for him that he found someone like Tina who gave him happiness and gave him tender care all the way to his final days.There will be a gathering of family and friends from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 6, 2015 at Ammen Family Cremation and Funeral Care, 1001 S. Hickory Street, Melbourne.In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Brevard Alzheimer+óGé¼Gäós Foundation and/or the William Childs Hospice House.
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