Obituary of Laurie Blachford
1926 – 2022
Laurie died of a broken heart on December 8, as Irene, his wife of 68 years, predeceased him by 31 days. He leaves his children, Alistair and Diane, and his grandchildren, Daphne, Laurian and Freya.
Laurie was born on a farm in Saskatchewan, the eldest of seven. He left his job as a telegraph operator on the railroad to study engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. He chose electrical engineering "because it was the first year it was offered,” graduating in 1948. After a stint testing transformers at Canadian General Electric, he grabbed the opportunity to head to Brazil with Canadian-Brazilian Services Ltd. Laurie worked in increasingly senior positions with Rio de Janeiro Tramway, Brazilian Traction, and Light - Serviços de Eletricidade, S.A. That company provided Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo with their electricity.
In January, 1967, a colossal thunderstorm dropped 275mm of rain in 3 hours, triggering landslides that moved a greater land mass than had ever been recorded in geological literature. It was focussed on Serra das Araras in which the Light's main generating complex is located. All but the oldest of the 5 power plants were wiped out, the 3-storey subterranean power plant completely filling with mud. Laurie orchestrated the 24/7 recovery effort which restored all functionality in a mere 6 months, a feat of which he was justifiably proud.
In 1974, Laurie moved to Toronto as Vice-President (Technical) of Brascan, of which Light was a part. The Brazilian government bought Light from Brascan in 1979 and then Brascan, sitting cash-rich, was taken over by another company. Months later Manitoba Hydro grabbed him to be CEO for 3 years, and after that Laurie volunteered for the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO) for many years.
Laurie was a great Dad. Always a totally solid safety net, he never ever lost his cool. He steered us toward self-reliance, but we knew that if we had stumbled, he would be there. He catalyzed all our interests, whether it be pets, photography, crafts and hobbies, travel, SCUBA, field courses, outings to beaches and botanical gardens. He gave us lots of free rein and somehow the understanding that we should not abuse it. As a grandfather, Laurie watched a lot of Teletubbies and every swim, basketball and track meet in which Daphne participated. He modelled decency and honesty in all his actions. Always helpful, well into his 90s he was still asking, on a daily basis, “Is there something I can do for you?”
Laurie built his life around Irene. It was a love story for the ages. Saturday mornings in Rio he brought her gladiolas from the market. Many flights (and hovercrafts!) were almost missed as he would be in duty free buying Irene her favourite perfume. At 93, Laurie was Irene’s primary caregiver during her descent with Alzheimer’s, not allowing her to be cared for by anyone else until it was the only option. The disease robbed Laurie of the last ten years of their life together. A donation in his memory to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario (https://alzheimer.ca/on/en/about-us/alzheimer-society-ontario) would be appreciated.
A funeral will not be held. Condolences, photos and stories may be shared on the Tribute Wall.
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