Jean Yvon (Ivan) Gouin

Obituary
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Jean Yvon (Ivan) Gouin On November 11, 2007 Ivan, beloved husband of the late Carol Gouin, passed away peacefully. Ivan was born on February 15, 1916 in Vimy Alberta. He was the second of seven children born to Rudolph and Rose Alma Gouin. The family lived in rugged conditions on a small farm. As a teenager during the Great Depression of the 1930's, Ivan experienced the desperation of poverty. The lessons of misery defined his young life and taught Ivan that hard work, persistence and optimism would change his circumstance. Always practical even as a little a boy, Ivan once witnessed a fire and responded to those crying, 'God stop the flames, by saying you pray, I'm getting some water'. 'God stop the flames', 'by saying you pray, I'm getting some water'. As an alter boy to an early mentor, Father Coolin, Ivan learned and lived by the notion, the most important thing was to look after those he loved here and now, not in the hereafter. Throughout his life, generosity flowed from a man who is defined by helping others. In 1938 at the age of 22, Ivan got a job at grain elevator. His salary of $15 a week was shared by his large family whose needs he understood as being more important than his own. In 1940, Ivan discovered his entrepreneurial talent by purchasing a general store in Vimy with his sister. From those humble beginnings Ivan prospered, never forgetting his commitment to his family and those in need. World War Two interrupted his career as a shop keeper when he joined the Canadian Army and served in Ontario. After serving in the military and seven years as a merchant, Ivan realized the future of rural Alberta would be roads and cars. Most important he understood this future would bring increased competition to little towns and jeopardize his business and so many others. Ivan sold his store and turned his attention to a career that would make him a pioneer in construction. Ever the entrepreneur, Ivan noticed farmers in the area were using small bulldozers to clear their land. Most farmers did not have the capital to invest in this equipment so Ivan and his younger brother Bob bought one very old piece of equipment and then another, clearing the land of bush and rock. As business grew, the brothers broadened their horizons and secured work from the Alberta Department of Highways. On New Years Day 1948, at the age of 31 Ivan went to a party that would change his life forever. At that happy occasion was a beautiful woman named Carol. Originally from Yugoslavia, Carol immigrated to Canada with her family as a child of 4. Ivan was immediately captivated by the vibrant young woman. Three months later they were married and began a family. In 1951, Ivan and Carol moved their young family to a small house in Edmonton and soon thereafter to the West Edmonton neighborhood of Valleyview. A home and a life Carol, Ivan and the children would come to cherish. In 1952, Ivan, brother Bob and two partners began work under the name North American Road Builders. Soon the brothers bought out their partners and so began the foundation of a company that expanded throughout Alberta. Twenty years later, in 1972 Bob decided to pursue other interests. Ivan bought Bob's share of the company. There were many strenuous challenges, all of which Ivan faced with optimism and an unrivaled passion. He knew the business, worked hard to compete and expand. Survival was not always easy in the highly competitive and always risky business of construction. His success was by any standard, outstanding, fuelled by the need to innovate, to compete and to see just over the horizon. In the late 1970's, Ivan experienced health problems that changed his approach to life and business, spending more time with Carol traveling to southern California to escape Alberta's winters and exploring the world. Ivan was blessed an immense knowledge of history and politics. He was a voracious reader, affording him an intellectual presence that allowed him tolerance and perspective widely respected throughout his life. Ivan was honest, his ethics were beyond reproach. He had wisdom and grace, was a teacher of all who knew him and a friend of so many. His optimism was infectious. Ivan believed that obstacles in life provided endless opportunity. When it rained making road building difficult he would say, 'rain is why we include contingencies in our budgets, when it does not rain, we are more profitable. And that's just good business.' When faced with competition, Ivan would innovate. When paying taxes, he would remind colleagues 'working is a privilege and taxes remind us of that.' Business was his passion. Carol and his family was his life. He respected others and asked only what he expected of himself. Ivan is survived by his children Elaine Busch (Ron), Roger ( Peggy ), Renee Katz ( Daryl) Colette (Michael), Martin ( Sarah). His grandchildren include, Renee, Arden, Justin, Anna, Lauren and Isabelle Gouin, Britt French, Harrison and Cloe. Ivan's brothers and sisters include, Giselle, Jennie (deceased), Lucille (deceased), Lomar (deceased), Rolond and Robert. His many nieces and nephews. Ivan will be remembered for his many contributions to Edmonton, to Alberta and to Canada. A man of substance and charisma, of depth, and always a man whose love of his wife knew no bounds. Ivan died in his 91st year at 11 am on November 11. A fitting tribute to his country and to his wife, Carol whose birthday fell on that same day. Special thanks to Dr. Allison Theman for her compassion in caring for both Carol and Ivan. And to the Emergency and Intensive Care Units of the U of A and Misericordia Hospitals. The family thanks Ivan's caregiver, Blandina Carilla for her many years of service. There will be a family memorial service followed by a celebration of his life, for all, at the Royal Mayfair Golf and Country Club on south Groat Road in Edmonton, Thursday, November 15, at 4pm-7pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a hospital of your choice. Connelly-McKinley Funeral Home 10011-114 Street Edmonton, AB 780.422.2222
Published in National Post from Nov. 30 to Dec. 8, 2007
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