October 1, 1945 – December 27, 2017
Raymond John Wilfing, born in 1945, was the eldest child and only son to Alois and Germaine Wilfing. At age two and a half his family welcomed the arrival of his baby sister Eileen.
Raymond started his schooling in a one-room school in the Dunfield District and continued his elementary education in Meadow Lake. For his high school years he attended Campion College in Regina, a catholic boarding school. He continued his education at the University of Saskatchewan in the College of Agriculture where he earned the notorious position on the college executive of being the Moral Booster. Even though he was active in the College, he managed to meet Sharon Elliott and completed his degree in Bachelor of Science in Mechanized Agriculture. They married and returned to Meadow Lake. Ray commenced teaching adult education and later mechanics at the SIAST Campus and Sharon taught at Jubilee School. During this time, Ray and Sharon recreationally curled extensively, and that was how Ray and two colleagues got the idea and decided to build Meadow Lake’s first bowling alley. They operated the facility for 10 years.
Ray was passionate about farming. Ray and Sharon took over the farm and proudly raised their three boys – Kevin, Ryan and Derek. He was an avid reader and researched articles on new varieties and technological advancements that would impact him in his career. When technology changed he was ready to embrace it. So, in the mid 70s he volunteered to participate in what was known as the Farm Lab Demonstration Program. This was his first introduction to continuous cropping and he began to abandon the idea of summerfallow. During this period, he was also instrumental in establishing and building the Meadow Lake Seed Cleaning Coop. Ray was never one to back down from a project that he felt he could accomplish himself as he often built most of his farm buildings, built seed cleaning equipment, retrofitted and modified farm equipment, and even built his own family home and helped erect his summer cottage.
There was not a project that Ray took on that he did not give 100 per cent whether it be investigating the building of a hog barn, trying to establish a local feedlot, fundraising for the swimming pool, or volunteering with the minor hockey executive for 13 years.
In the early 80s he was approached by the Saskatchewan Canola Growers’ Association to join their pursuit in the advancement of Canola in the province. This led to 18 years of industry promotion and the introduction of a checkoff system for research and market development that has built markets for an annual crop of canola from less than one million acres to over 20 million acres of Canadian canola today. Along the way he was delighted to work with many great people with common aspirations who he still befriended after retirement.
Raymond had a strong work ethic and a knack to fix pretty much anything. He worked hard to instill these qualities in Kevin, Ryan and Derek. He, at times, had to fix his damaged farm equipment too, but did so, patiently knowing he was developing positive work ethics in his teenage operators.
As Kevin and Tammy, Derek and Michelle settled into city life, Ryan and Jen started to take over the farm so Ray and Sharon moved to Jeanette Lake to try to retire. At the same time, the Wilfing family grew to include six grandchildren: Andrew, Abigail, Emma, Aubrie, Dylan and Teagyn.
Ray stayed busy in his new role as “hired man” working on the farm for seeding and harvest. With his new found available time, he was encouraged to run for RM council which led to two terms as reeve. As well, he took on the chair of the Cabin Owner’s Association at Jeanette Lake.
When Sharon was able to get Ray away from the farm and lake, they started to enjoy their winters in Mesa, AZ. In the south, Ray and Sharon found a love of golf which they carried back to Saskatchewan now that they had more free time. They made many friends and rekindled old friendships during their winters in the Phoenix area – so much that they seemed to have a very full social calendar and were always on the go.
Raymond loved to spend time at the lake and looked forward to spending his summers with his family and around him. Everyone will remember their time spent at the lake with Dad and Grandpa, whether it was boating, fishing, sitting around the campfire or providing a little free labour on the latest project.
Ray may not have set out to change the world, but for so many people he did… and it was always for the greater good. He will be forever cherished and greatly missed by so many, may he rest in peace.
Card of Thanks
The Wilfing Family would like to thank all the friends, neighbours, and family for all the support by means of visits, food, cards, flowers, phone calls, and prayers. All the help was very much appreciated and will be remembered.
Thanks goes out to Dr. Desjardins and her colleges at the Meadow Lake Hospital and the great nursing staff that helped Ray throughout his stays there. Thanks also to the Heart Function Clinic in Saskatoon for their expertise and involvement in the betterment of Ray’s health.
Thanks to Fr. Alberto Dela Pena for officiating the fitting memorial service for Ray along with the help of Sandra Senga and Marty Bishop. Also Thank you to Eunice Sergent and staff for the great lunch after the service. Appreciation towards Darcy and J.E. Thomas Funeral Home for their help and thoughtfulness.
Ray touched many lives in his home community and abroad. He will be deeply missed.
Sharon, Ryan & Jennifer, Kevin & Tammy, Derek & Michelle and families.