July 17, 1913 – March 25, 2015
April 20, 1924 – October 26, 2012
Graham (aka Gray or Slim) was a man with many tales to tell when Ro would allow him the opportunity to speak. She in truth was THE STORYTELLER. Gray was born to Cecil and Nina Walley, both engineers who graduated from the University of Liverpool and was the eldest of 10 siblings. His youngest brother Colin by 17 years to the day interviewed him in 1996 and a 93 page document was transcribed. Stories of life in Winnipeg and Balmoral revealed a family philosophy of work hard, get an education, and toe the line. His stories included riding the rails west in the Depression when he found work in the coal mines of Bralorne, BC and ”teamed up” with his wife Lillian to engineer their daughter Elinor. His mining experience led him to the University of Idaho and he graduated as a Mining Engineer in 1941. Lillian died in 1942 and Gray and toddler Elinor moved to Vancouver. Several jobs later he landed a job at Boeing. As it happened a young family friend, Rosemary Blaker who was a “beautiful girl” also worked at Boeing doing her Rosie the Riveter job and “that’s when we got serious”. Gray worked with Boeing throughout the war and was assigned by the Militia to the Bureau of Technical Personnel. His father and 3 brothers were in active service and he was told “No way you’re going in the Air Force”. Brothers Keith and Ken died in service as pilots. Father Cecil and brother Bruce returned home. Ro lost brother Angus. Gray began to work with Dominion Construction and after taking several courses and exams he received his Structural Engineer designation in 1953. Ro was busy with Rick, Karin and her people, which included anyone who sat at her table. There was also the “logging adventures” on Nelson Island, which landed Gray in the hospital with a badly broken leg and little money. A project at Sidney Roof and Paper brought the family to Victoria where Steven was born. Then, north to Kitimat with the Alcan Project and the Skins Lake Spillway with Ro and 4 kids in tow living in unusual circumstances, including a log cabin with no plumbing and a one room K-12 school. Ro and the kids got jaundice but on to the next adventure in the 1947 Dodge. Gray then worked with Marvel Construction in Fairbanks, Courtenay, Comox and, then back to Vancouver where Blake was born, the chubbiest most loved baby ever. Ro then said “We’re not following you anymore. We live in Dunbar”. So Gray commuted to Spences Bridge, Quesnel, and on to a pipeline bridge in Empress, Alberta. Ro relented and the family moved there for 9 months. He next managed a Grinrod, BC highway bridge. Several jobs later he ended his formal career with Mackenzie Barge and Derrick and Fraser River Pile Driving. He was most proud of his work with the Deas Tunnel project and the Schwartz Bay causeway. He loved his jobs and his pictures of job sites, which he showed any chance he got. Ro and Gray retired to Harrison Lake to their wonderful home in Thunderbird Estates which they engineered and built themselves with help from son Rick and others. Their vision was children, grandchildren and beyond coming together often and they did. Ro and Gray had a feisty marriage and all visitors were witness to their interesting relationship. Gray did small engineering jobs until he was 85 and many projects in Harrison, Agassiz, and Hope had his meticulous seal of approval. We often said he loved his jobs more than his family but in his later years the family seemed to win out. Ro and Gray had 5 children, 9 grandchildren, and 22 great grandchildren and they knew and loved them all. Gramps wanted them all to have good jobs, get educated, tell job stories, and vote. Gram wanted them all to feel that they were the most beloved people ever and her favorite. Other unrelated by blood but beloved folks were included in these expectations as well. Lake House gatherings were legendary with tale telling the main event. Family holidays in Maui, Whistler, Alaska, and Victoria were favorites as well as Stevens many misadventures. We all grieved the loss of Blake, Rick, Bud, and Steven but we kept their stories alive. After Ro died Gray agreed to live at The Waterford in Tsawwassen where he lived for 2 years. He always gave the highest praise for his excellent care by June Murray and her team. While living there daughter-in-law Meg died who was his “little soldier” and he missed her many visits for Happy Hour and her management of his talking books, which were his daily hobby. Though legally blind and hard of hearing he was able to engage in all conversations with all his memories, opinions, and sometimes politically incorrect biases in full force. He wanted to die in comfort and he did by simply falling asleep just 4 months shy of his 102 birthday. Two days previously he had ordered Karin to buy him new socks and get his hearing aids cleaned. Ro did not want an obituary but we piggybacked her into this story. Ro and Gray leave a strong legacy of family and devoted friends who consider story telling to be the thread of life that connects us all. Dad requested that we send a donation to APEG BC Foundation for a scholarship contribution and we have done that to honor his beloved profession. A gathering to share some stories will be held at The Harrison Hotel on August 22 in the Canada Room from 2:30 – 3:30. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 604-273-8925 if you plan to attend.