A longtime former provincial court judge and lawyer in Weyburn, Ray Neville, passed away on Sunday at the age of 87 years.
Born in Kerrobert, where his father was a lawyer and his mother was a nurse, Neville went to Central Collegiate in Regina and graduated in 1944, and went on to the University of Saskatchewan where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1947, and his Bachelor of Law in 1950.
Coming to Weyburn shortly after, he practised law in Weyburn for 14 years with partner George Hardy, and in 1964 he was appointed to the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan, and served on the bench for 27 years until he retired at age 66.
As a judge, he did a circuit to communities like Milestone, Bengough, Avonlea and Fillmore and sometimes filled in at Estevan.
Ray met his wife Jessie playing his favourite sport of badminton, and married in 1955; they had two children, daughter Kelly (Charles Eddy) of Weyburn, and son Neal of Regina. Jessie passed away in 2009.
“He was a very avid reader, and he was very proud of the fact he was able to get that education,” said his daughter, Kelly Eddy. “He really promoted his kids and grandkids to get educated.”
“He was a simple man; he wasn’t extravagant at all. He was proud to be in this community; after he retired, he chose to stay in this community,” said Kelly.
He was very involved in the community, including serving as the first chairman of the Weyburn Comprehensive School board, as well as serving on the Weyburn Public Library board, president of the Weyburn Golf Club, and president of both the Kinsmen and K40 boards.
Neville also served as secretary on the Weyburn Community Park board, along with Carl Goranson, and helped to plant trees and to establish what would become the Nickle Lake Regional Park.
He and wife Jessie loved to travel, said Kelly, going to such destinations as Cuba, England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Hawaii.
“He was very honest, and I remember often he’d go to the court house in the evening and work on a case. We wouldn’t know what it was about, of course, but he felt very intensely about it and he tried to be as fair as he could be,” she said.
“He loved his dog. He always had a dog at his side, even as a boy. He always had a place for animals in his life,” said Kelly, noting his latest dog died a couple months before he did.
A long-time friend, Grant Marinos, said of him, “He was a fine gentleman. As a judge, I thought Ray was very fair. He thought about his decisions, and he was a very personable man and very honest.”
Marinos said his friend was kind of an introvert, but he very much enjoyed coming down to the Legion for coffee with his friends.
“He had a good sense of humour; he was a good friend and a good man to know,” he said.
Another long-time friend, Ron Milleker, said, “He was a very gentle man, and was always concerned about what was going on in the community.”
Speaking of him as a judge, Milleker said, “I know he was fair. He was a people’s judge; he looked after everybody and did the best that he could do for them, under the law.”
The funeral will be held on Monday, Apr. 7, from Grace United Church, with the service at 1 p.m.