It is with profound sorrow that we share the recent passing of Allan Ashworth. Allan, passed away peacefully in the afternoon of March 21st, at home in Calgary, with his daughter by his side.
Allan had been managing a few health conditions and recently the most challenging being lung disease and prostate cancer that had spread to his bones. In 2022 he decided he no longer wanted treatment; he was suffering mentally and physically and didn’t want to carry on like that any longer, he wanted his suffering to be over.
My dad, Allan, was a very private man, and I can hear him in my mind, saying something like, “It’s none of their business” as I think about what he may or may not approve of me sharing in an obituary. And, even now, missing him more than I can possibly portray, that thought makes me smile and laugh to myself.
He was born in the summer of 1943 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to his parents Evelyn and Dennis (fondly referred to as Shorty) just after the Great Depression and during the Second World War.
My dad had a grade 3 education and was not a fit in a traditional education environment (not diagnosed with Bipolar until he was 70, he was a kid who exhibited all the signs of ADHD, and I can only imagine he must have been quite a disruption in class).
Being a child of parents that went through the great depression and two world wars, my dad was very aware of scarcity and survival and was careful with money, always wanting to make sure he had something put away. And, because of my dad’s lack of education learning a trade was his ticket to a decent future.
At some point, his dad started a painting company and his sons traveled with him, as teenagers, painting across Canada and eventually settled in Calgary. My dad’s brother, Jimmy, didn’t do it for long and gravitated more to sales roles, while my dad preferred less interaction with people, and painting allowed him both autonomy and the ability to make a good living. My Dad painted professionally in both residential and commercial environments and that was his profession all of his working life.
My dad, Al, or Ali, as he was known as by most, was a solid, old school character, who didn’t mince words. You knew exactly what he thought of you, and really any topic you spoke with him about; he was brutally honest and incredibly direct and that could be both hard to take and quite refreshing. He was incredibly loyal and had little desire to meet new people. He stuck with the guys he grew up with or met through friends and work and those were his people for life. One of those people was his good friend Danny who he shared over 45 years of friendship with.
My dad lived in Calgary most of his adult life. My mom and I left for Regina when I was 3 so my relationship with Ail consisted of flying to Calgary for visits, over the phone chats, and he would randomly drive to Regina some days for a quick visit and then drive the 8 hours back after an opportunity to share a quick meal, usually with no notice. He was always on the go, didn’t like to just sit around, woke up at 5:00 AM and if nothing was scheduled for the day, he just might drive down to surprise me. While I was growing up, most of our time spent together was behind the wheel for 10 minutes or 10+ hours.
A big drinker in his youth, my dad quite drinking in the 90’s and it was the best decisions he ever made.
Ali, ready to step away from painting and the long hours of physical labour decided to try his hand at retirement and moved to Vancouver island for about 10 years in the mid 90’s.
His niece Janice just happened to move to a more Northern location on the island for a while around the same time. We all spent quite a bit of time together visiting or going for long drives touring around the island. Ali and Janice and I shared some really good times. Never an argument, we three got along famously, and for a man who didn’t like most people, he sure valued his relationships with us.
Upon his return to Calgary, Al reconnected with an old friend Stanley who his brother Jimmy sold magazines with, in their youth. Al really enjoyed and appreciated his time with Stanley. They would run errands and go for drives and got along really well.
Just around the time Al got settled into a new place in Calgary, his brother returned to Canada after living overseas for many years and after a chance occurrence that had Janice reconnect with her Dad through a relative of Stanley…She proposed her Dad could move in to Al’s new place and he was invited to live with his brother to see how it went. It worked out great (or “real good”, as the guys would say)!
They lived together happily for about 15 years and really looked out for one another. Eventually Jimmy was diagnosed with dementia, and Allan’s health started failing and what one lacked physically the other made up for mentally and vice versa; they were quite a pair.
Al’s unwavering commitment to allow his brother to remain at home meant we would have to enlist help of every government support available including regular home care visits from various departments and navigating that was a part time job in and of itself. I had to hire an assistant to help manage all of the additional paperwork and submissions to seniors benefits and I would like to take the opportunity to thank Stephanie Haynes for all of her help and assistance the last 2+ years – she was a true God send and will forever be appreciated.
Janice had struggled with some of her own health challenges the last several years and had recently fallen on some hard times and so she moved in with the guys a couple times in 2022 and 2023.
Around that time her dad, Jimmy was really changing and passed away in the Summer of 2022 after a short stay in hospital.
Shortly after her dad’s passing Janice needed a place to stay on a more permanent basis and so we moved her (and her 3 cats in) and had 6 really good months together.
My dad, Janice and I were all together again and we were such great support for one another.
The 3 of us, all with our direct/assertive personalities certainly didn’t mince words with one another. Comments that could have others arguing or sobbing were just simple communication with us. There was nothing unsaid, and there was no lack of love and generosity.
Al didn’t want to stick around anymore, he hadn’t wanted to for a while, but I think he wanted to do what he could to help his brother and his niece. In March he started to say good bye to his closest friends, and family.
Janice decided to move back in with her ex and give that another try.
That final week was emotionally charged for many reasons, as anyone could imagine. But our last night together, just me an my dad, was really beautiful, and calm, and light hearted.
And then on the afternoon of March 21, on a beautiful sunny day my dad passed away peacefully with me and his precious cat Frances right there with him.
My Dad didn’t have a long list of great worldly accomplishments. But he had a Master’s in being authentic, and unconditional. He knew how to really show up for the people he cared for, and those lucky enough to be on that list are much better for it. I learnt a lot about love and service from my Dad and I’ll carry that with me always.
Allan is survived by his daughter Raena Gartner, her partner (Don Guglielmin) and her mom Doreen Gartner, his niece Janice Ashworth, his nephew Derrick Ashworth (Julie) and their kids Dylan and Oliver, his best friends Danny Holt (Laura) and Stanley Warcomika, and his cat Frances.
Allan was predeceased by his parents; Dennis Ashworth, and Evelyn Clark and step father Tom Clark, and his brother James Ashworth.