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Saturday February 2, 2013

McCUTCHEON, John Oliver

Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, good friend, business executive, WWII veteran, mentor to many ...
After a long, well-lived life, John passed away at St. Paul's Hospital (Palliative Care ) Vancouver on January 26, 2013 with his wife by his side. He leaves to mourn his loss, his wife 'Bunny' - Susan (née Ram) McCutcheon. '' At every instant and from every side, resounds the call of Love: We are going to sky, who wants to come with us? We have gone to heaven, we have been the friends of the Angels, And now we will go back there, for there is our country.'' ~ Rumi
John was predeceased by his parents Oliver and Jean (née Blanche) McCutcheon and his only sibling, Elizabeth - called Bess by those who loved her. He is survived by his three children: Sarah (Raouf Greiche), Montreal; John McCutcheon (Catherine), Toronto; and Nenagh (Neil McGowan), Langley, B. C. He is also survived by their mother, Elizabeth (née Dick) McCutcheon, Toronto. John always appreciated Elizabeth's willingness to move their young family around in support of his academic and business careers. He also leaves 5 grandchildren: Emlyn McCutcheon (Jessica Lawson) and their daughters Audrey and Victoria, George Greiche, Leila Greiche of the Montreal family, and Alex McCutcheon, Maggie McCutcheon of the Toronto family.
John was born in Vancouver on October 16, 1920 and grew up in Kitsilano, graduated from Kitsilano High School, and started his post-secondary education at UBC. He travelled widely and lived abroad but he always considered himself a Vancouver boy.
John was a first generation Canadian. His father left Ireland when he was a young man and his mother was a child when her family left Scotland. Strong Irish-Scottish work-ethic roots served John well. John and Susan toured Ireland in 2008 and during this trip-of-a-lifetime, John remarked that he could see his father in the Irish faces and felt the presence of his father's spirit on this journey home.
With the outbreak of WWII, John left UBC and enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940. He earned his pilot's wings and the rank of Pilot Officer. For 2 years he was posted as a flying instructor in the great expansion of the Commonwealth Air Training Program. John was frustrated by the RCAF's unwillingness to post him in an active operating theatre. He finished the war in the rank of Squadron Leader serving as a staff officer at North Atlantic Air Command in Halifax, responsible for Search and Rescue Operations and Ferry Command.
Accomplishments and challenges During his life John had a number of challenges - surviving an airplane crash while he was in the RCAF; in business he had to contend with Canada's National Energy Program, and the recent and still ongoing USA real estate recession. In his personal life, an unplanned early retirement due to the challenge of a physically debilitating accident - a challenge he shared with Susan. Any lesser person would not have survived.
John was remarkably successful in academia and in business. Following WWII, he entered engineering at McGill and graduated as the 1949 gold medalist. He was recruited by H.R. MacMillan to work with MacMillan Export Co. Ltd. (later MacMillan Bloedel). He returned to McGill for graduate studies (PhD studies, Civil Engineering) and during this time, he also worked as an assistant professor and he was eventually promoted to Department Head. In 1970 John became Executive VP of CEMP Investments, the holding company of the Samuel Bronfman Corporate interests. Convinced of the significant potential of the oil and gas developments taking place in Alberta and Western Canada, John relocated to Calgary and founded Carlyle Energy in 1980. Like many others, John's business was affected by the disastrous National Energy Program (1980). He moved to California where his work as a consultant included real estate with the Prospero Group, resource development, public and private raising of capital funds in Canada and the United States. He returned to Calgary in 1988 and founded Zargon Oil and Gas, serving as President and CEO and later as Chairman of the Board after taking the company public in 1993.
John McCutcheon held office in a number of professional and technical societies in Economics and Engineering, national and international. He authored and/or co-authored approximately 45 papers in recognized journals published in Canada, the United States and abroad. He received the Canadian Centennial Medal in 1967.
Education for John was lifelong. His formal accredited education was only part of his learning. John shared his love of learning as a Professor at McGill University, in his business career and was deeply satisfied when mentoring others. His legacy is in the memory of those fortunate enough to have had him as a mentor.
Giving back and sharing. One of John's passions was contemporary art. His collection reflected his eclectic interests and support for young Canadian artists as well as internationally established painters also represented in John's collection. As an expression of John's high regard for and support of Alberta and his love for Calgary, he has gifted select pieces of his art collection to the Glenbow Art Museum.
John was a leader and visionary in terms of his determination to never retire from active working life. As a result of an accident with a malfunctioning elevator at his Calgary office in 2007, he was forced to retire. Like everything else he did in life, after an initial difficult period of adjustment, he did this well, spending his days with several newspapers and an ever expanding number of books. He started classes at Simon Fraser University at the downtown Vancouver campus. His photo was used in class advertising brochures! He also joined a book club at the Vancouver Public Library. With a lifelong commitment to physical activity and wellness, John continued his daily walks until a stroke in October 2012.
John loved orchids and enjoyed being a hobbyist grower. John and Susan had delightful trips to Southeast Asia (Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca) visiting international orchid exhibitions and spending a lot of time in Singapore. A lunch of Penang quai teo noodles and an afternoon by the pool at the Tanglin Club with the International Herald Trib after a long morning hike through the Botanical Gardens and Singapore National Orchid Gardens was a favourite sort of day.
John loved music and for many years he was a director of the Vancouver Opera. He and Susan had many wonderful evenings with the Vancouver Symphony - something he could continue to enjoy fully after the accident. John McCutcheon was a good person. He had a keen intellect, great vision and a kind and loving heart. He could easily connect with people - family, friends, colleagues, and employees. He will not be forgotten.
Cremation has taken place. A celebration of John's wonderful and full life will be conducted by The Very Rev. Peter Elliott on Saturday, February 9 at 1 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, 690 Burrard (at West Georgia St.), Vancouver. Reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, please consider charities John supported: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working to save orphaned baby elephants; Christ Church Cathedral Sandwich Project; or the Vancouver Symphony.
John and Susan want to thank St. Paul's Hospital and a special thank you to Rick and Remy for the wonderful years of care-giving for John.
Condolences may be emailed to:
Walkey & Company Funeral Directors (604) 738-0006

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