Raymond George McInnis (1936 - 2016)

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  • "I will remember Ray as always anxious to help and helping..."
    - Sy Schwartz
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Raymond George McInnis, 79, passed away peacefully at Whatcom Hospice House in the early hours of February 25th, 2016 after spending many months being cared for at his home. Ray was born on November 1st,1936 in Saskatchewan (Canada) the son of George and Phyllis (Fensom) McInnis, brother to Eileen Ahle (McInnis), Alice Thomas (McInnis), and Beth Brocker (McInnis). His first 8 years were spent on his father's homestead near Bankend, Saskatchewan. His family experienced and responded to "the difficult years of the Great Depression". After a brief move to Toronto, his father was employed and respected as the foreman at the Experimental Farm, a government funded project in Melfort, Saskatchewan. Ray demonstrated skill in hockey and had the chance to be drafted by the NHL Boston Bruins. He instead chose an academic career finally choosing a career in Library Science. He moved to the west coast and enrolled in the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and began his studies. He soon met and married his wife of 56 years, Karen Ewbank, an American nursing student. They were married in Vancouver B.C. on June 27,1958 and Karen gave birth to their first child Michael Scott McInnis in December 1959. The family then moved to Seattle so that Ray could complete his Master's Degree in Library Science at the University of Washington. In Seattle, Karen gave birth to their second child, Erin Michelle McInnis in 1962. The family made a series of moves as Raymond advanced his career. These included Friday Harbor, Montesano, and finally Bellingham, Washington, where Ray and Karen lived together for the next 50 years. Ray was hired as the Head Librarian at Western Washington State College (now Western Washington University) in 1965 and continued there until his retirement in 2001 during which time he also taught history courses. His first book was published in 1967 (with Roland Delorme) and he went on to write numerous texts related to academic research. He also gained a very rewarding Editorship for a ten-volume set of "concept dictionaries" in the humanities and social sciences for Greenwood Press. Ray loved to engage academically with students and invited students from all over the world for dinners and social events at his home with family and friends. In addition to his academic pursuits, Ray loved building furniture in his personal woodshop. He had a Shopsmith and a radial arm saw with which he could build practically anything. Ray and Karen built an elevated deck off the 14th street house where the family would eat salmon and inadvertently feed visiting seagulls. Ray dabbled in salt water fishing, but really took to harvesting Dungeness Crab on low tides at Clayton Beach. The whole family and dog would spend hours in the sun catching crab which were collected in gunny sacks and brought home and cooked fresh on the fire pit. He maintained a love of crab for the rest of his life. After living on Bellingham's South Hill (14th St.) for 20 years, Ray and Karen moved to their final home off of Samish Way on Taylor Ave. This was a very distinguished brick home in the English tradition with nearly an acre of land they landscaped and gardened for the next 27 years. Ray and Karen enjoyed their years at the Taylor home. Ray had a shop built in back that contained a plethora of precision woodworking tools. Ray spent his later years working in the shop and compiling an impressive website documenting the history of amateur woodworking in America (http://www.woodworkinghistory.com/). Ray lost his wife Karen only 5 weeks before his passing. He is survived by son, Michael Scott McInnis of Seattle, Washington, his wife, Donna McInnis (Larry), and grandchildren, Ian and Maya; daughter, Erin Michelle Douglas (McInnis) of Sedro-Woolley, her husband, Stephen Douglas, and granddaughter, Marie Casey Douglas; sister Alice Thomas (McInnis) of Langley, B.C., her husband Gary Thomas, and their daughters, Alanna Thomas of Langley and Denise Carey (Thomas) of Nelson, B.C. and her son Michael Carey; sister Beth Brocker (McInnis) of Lockport, Manitoba and her husband Ben Brocker; niece Marie Heathcott (Ahle) of Calgary, Alberta, her husband, James Heathcott, and their son George Heathcott, and niece, Pauline Karsin (Ahle) of Newton, Manitoba, her husband Dave Karsin, and their son, Jonathon. A celebration of Ray's life will be on March, 26, 2016 at 1:00 PM at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship Church 1207 Ellsworth St., Bellingham. Memorials can be made in Ray's name to: Whatcom Hospice Foundation. Share your stories and memories of Ray in his obituary at wcremation.com.
Funeral Home
Whatcom Cremation & Funeral
4202 Guide Meridian
Bellingham, WA 98226
(360) 734-7073
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Published in Bellingham Herald on Mar. 6, 2016
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