Obituary of Jim Briggs
January 30, 1937 – Drumheller, Alberta
September 23, 2023 – Calgary, Alberta
Jim Briggs, of Calgary, Alberta, passed away on Saturday, September 23, 2023, at the age of 86 years.
Jim was born in Drumheller, Alberta on January 30, 1937. An adventurous youth, he was reported to have climbed to the top of Drumheller’s water tower as a young boy, and to have generally given his mother and older sister many moments of alarm during his raising.
In his early years, Jim’s family followed work: first to Drumheller, then to Kirkland Lake, Ontario, back to Drumheller, and then finally to Calgary where he came to stay in 1943. The son of two English emigres, Jim was always proud of his father’s work in coal mines, service in WWI, and post-war employment at the Colonel Belcher hospital. From his mother, Jim inherited a talent in visual art, especially painting and sculpture, as well as an appreciation of literature, including poetry. Jim remained protective of his older sister Majorie, whom he loved greatly, and she was loyal and protective of her “Jimmy” for all her life as well.
Jim’s father passed away when Jim was only fifteen years old, and as a young man, Jim took the responsibility of looking after his mother very seriously. He started working as driver and mover for North American Van Lines, and before long he was working very long hours on roads across the continent, memorizing good places to eat and to catch live music.
No summary of Jim’s early life would be complete without mentioning his enthusiastic service in the Reserve Air Force, 403 Squadron, as well as the purchase of his beloved 1962 Austin Healey Mark II 3000, which was barely two years old when he drove it off a used car lot.
Jim married Lucy in 1967. With her support and guidance, he entered into many new adventures, such as the purchase of their first home, becoming a father, and starting a new career as an art teacher with the Calgary Board of Education. He taught, coached, and even drove a bus for a time with the CBE until he retired in 1998. Before starting teaching, Jim also was extremely active in the Canada Formula Vee circuit, racing a car (number 29) that he designed and built himself. With Lucy’s moral and financial support, Jim once became the Formula Vee prairie regional champion.
Doug and Greg were lucky to have a dad like Jim, who was enthusiastic about fatherhood and proud of his boys. He took an active role in everything: swimming lessons, t-ball, soccer, skiing, Beavers, Cubs, and Scouts. On a month-long Scout trip with his boys, Jim started to grow his famous beard, which stuck with him from then on, through thick and thin. Epic camping trips with his friends in the Canada Day Clan and to Vancouver Island were highlights of family summers. It was not long before Greg was joining his dad in the garage restoring his 1932 Ford or repairing his Datsun 280Z. Jim’s vocal impressions of trolls and other characters while reading aloud the works of J.R.R. Tolkien are legendary.
Jim was a long-time member of both the Vintage Sports Car Club of Calgary and the Alberta Pioneer Auto Club, and he was a permanent fixture at local car shows. He was first a season’s pass holder and then a volunteer at the Calgary Folk Club for a period of over forty years. He loved the Calgary Flames, the Calgary Stampeders, Nose Hill, ragtime, ceilidhs, moving to music, and singing his heart out.
One of Jim’s favourite things to say (just like the singer Vin Garbutt) was “All the very best!” while raising a Big Rock Traditional.
Jim will be remembered most as an engaged father and grandfather, loving husband, loyal friend, and a generous and witty spirit, who was never afraid to devote everything to the passions, interests, and loves of his life.
Besides his caring wife, Jim is survived by his sons, Douglas (Lydia), Gregory (Denise), three grandchildren, Lucas, Jonathan, and Elsie, nephews Mark and John, and nieces Lowleen and Robin.
Jim was predeceased by his parents, Alfred James and Elsie Briggs, sisters, Marjorie and May, niece Arvita, and nephew Raymond.
A celebration of Jim’s life will be held at McInnis & Holloway (Heritage, 1708 16 Avenue NW, Calgary, AB) on Saturday, October 7, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. A reception will follow in the hospitality centre at the same location.
Condolences, memories, and photos may be shared and viewed with Jim’s family here. In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes in Jim’s honour may be made directly to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Alberta, 200, 119 – 14th Street N.W., Calgary, AB T2N 1Z6, Telephone: (403) 264-5549, www.heartandstroke.ca.
In living memory of Jim Briggs, a tree will be planted in the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area by McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes, Chapel of the Bells, 2720 Centre Street North, Calgary, AB T2E 2V6, Telephone: 403-243-8200.