Lakehead Alum, Ray Stewart, reflects on life, love and purpose.

Lakehead Alum, Ray Stewart, reflects on life, love and purpose.

Ray Stewart with wife, Jennifer

Ray Stewart with wife, Jennifer in front of the donor wall in the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law building (the former PACI)

I first met Ray Stewart (HBComm '72) in the summer of 2015 in the halls of PACI.  Born in Thunder Bay, Ray had travelled from his home in British Columbia to visit his mother and father’s grave and refresh the floral arrangement; an annual event, he acknowledged.  Charming, intelligent and incredibly humble, Ray and I spoke for more than two hours of growing up in Thunder Bay, his time at PACI and at Lakehead University.

"Any success an individual achieves is a result of the people in their lives," says Ray.

From parental support, to meeting the Chief of Police as a teenager, having a group of strong academic advisors in university and marrying his high school sweetheart, Ray appreciates the meaning of imperfect decisions and good judgement.  People are the difference.

In life, Ray has always worked hard and played hard based on a simple principle.   Honour the 7-7-7 rule (work 7am-7pm 7 days a week until the job is done) and surround yourself with people that are smarter than you and who love you.

Encouraged by his first wife, Rita, now deceased, and their two young sons, Ray enrolled at Lakehead university as a mature student and graduated  in 1972 with an Honours Degree of Bachelor of Commerce and went on to pursue a Masters degree of Business Admin at Simon Fraser.

A successful businessman and consultant of 3 decades, Ray is now retired and living on a ranch in the South Okanagan with his new wife Jennifer and their eclectic animal kingdom.  With a shared love of art, fast cars, travel, animals of all shapes and sizes (yes, even a pet rattle snake named Fred), Ray is proud of his accomplishments.  The couple have five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Ray's memories of growing up in Thunder Bay are still vivid and treasured.  His boyish grin, ever present as we walked through PACI on that hot summer day, clearly brought him back to a time that was simple and heart-warming.

Philanthropic by nature and inspired by the transformation of a heritage building into a modern Faculty of Law in 2013,  Ray and Jennifer have purchased 5 named plaques on the main floor "2013" donor wall in PACI to recognize those people that have made a difference in their lives, including a retired Lakehead University professor. People are the difference.

My time with Ray Stewart two years ago was one of the nicest experiences I have had with a donor.  A genuine and hard-working man, he has learned to appreciate the important messages in life. Life is not easy, but it is purposeful.