Goodbye to our friend John Aldred
A crowd of 400 people who gathered at SAIT to celebrate the accomplishments of John Aldred, heard stories about his many passions in life including his family, his business and his great passion for SAIT and its students. Mr. Aldred, one of SAIT's great benefactors and champions, died March 7 after a lengthy illness.
The celebration of life, on Saturday March 12, 2016, was appropriately held in Aldred Centre, SAIT’s signature building named in honour of the Aldred family’s precedent setting $15 million contribution to the Promising FuturesTM Campaign for the Trades and Technology Complex.
Family, friends, colleagues and admirers filled the main floor. They joined John’s wife Cheryl, his brother Michael, and John’s three children Jennifer, Jessica and Ryan and some of John’s 11 grandchildren, to pay tribute to the many achievements of the Calgary business and community leader and longstanding friend and benefactor of SAIT.
The President and CEO of SAIT, Dr. David Ross said John Aldred’s contributions to SAIT were more than just generous, they were visionary. “He dedicated his life to student success. He was determined to change how trades were viewed. His aim was to change society’s perceptions of the value generated by mechanics, electricians, plumbers and carpenters.” Dr. Ross said that building the Aldred Centre was the crowning achievement of that goal and a fitting legacy.
John’s three children reminisced about how he guided them and advised them through life with patience and encouragement, whether it was building a robot for a science fair, learning to drive a stick shift, or choosing the right spouse. John’s son Ryan also recalled their father-son drive down Route 66 in the U.S. and discussion of John’s purchase of the “second fastest motorcycle on the market.”
In a eulogy prepared by Michael Aldred, he said he carries an enduring image of his eldest brother John as a “mechanic covered with grease.” He said, while John was proud of his British roots, he loved Canada and attributed much his success to its society and people. He said Canada has all the qualities John held dear, “its equality, a strong and just legal system and, perhaps more than anything, the opportunity to advance your station in life through hard work.” Michael Aldred also paid tribute to John’s wife Cheryl for her years of love and dedication to his brother.
Old friends and former coworkers recounted John’s rags-to-riches story, how he arrived in Canada in 1967 with $400 in his pocket, how John worked hard and reached beyond his skills as a mechanic to become a salesman and manager, eventually leading to the creation of Enerflex, John Aldred’s multi-million dollar global gas processer manufacturing business.
Dr. Ross described John Aldred’s many contributions to SAIT, not only his financial gifts through the Cadmus Foundation which included funds for equipment, student awards and trades research, but also John Aldred’s dedication of service to the SAIT Board of Governors and as a leader on fund raising cabinets. He said SAIT was honoured to pay tribute to John Aldred as an honorary degree recipient and a benefactor but most importantly as a good friend.
To honour John's memory, the Aldred family invites contributions to the Cadmus Teaching Chair program.
Written by Eric Rosenbaum
Brian Buchsdruecker Photos