Raymond Cunliffe was a graduate of UBC’s Department of Civil Engineering. His time at the University began in 1941 but, having enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Second World War meant he took a hiatus from studying to fight for his country. He returned to UBC after the end of the war, completing his degree in 1949.
Though his early years were difficult, Ray always possessed an adventurous nature. His mother passed away when he was only five and the Great Depression took its toll on his father’s career, meaning the family moved regularly. Despite this, Ray was always spirited and active. He attended high school in Smithers—playing baseball, hockey and basketball—and, during the summers, worked on various survey and construction crews as the province’s roadways expanded. This experience gave him a taste of the field that would become his career.
It was at UBC that Ray met Doris Palmer, the love of his life who he married in December 1946. After graduating, Ray would become the President of the UBC Civil Engineering Class of 1949, presiding over many annual class reunions. His long and illustrious career as a Professional Engineer began at the BC Department of Public Works, where he worked from 1950-1960, rising from being its youngest District Engineer to the Regional Engineer presiding over northern British Columba. These assignments took the Cunliffes to Williams Lake, Vancouver, Prince Rupert and Prince George. It was in Williams Lake where Ray and Doris’ sons were born, Harold in 1950 and David in 1953.
Ray and his family moved to Tsawwassen in 1963, where he and Doris would reside for the rest of their lives. Ray oversaw much of the development of his newly adopted home, first as the Municipal Engineer and then as the Municipal Administrator of Delta. In 1971, Ray was reunited with his brother Joe at Willis, Cunliffe & Tait, and in 1982 became President of the company. During this period, Ray was also the President of the Public Works Association of BC and served as the President of the BC Association of Professional Engineers.
Ray retired in 1989 to concentrate on caring for Doris who had contracted cancer in the previous year. Although she overcame the disease, she would never fully recover, succumbing in 2005. Ray passed away on October 7, 2013. Family, friends and colleagues from throughout his life will remember his generous nature, love for adventure and kindness of spirit. He will be missed by all who knew him.
The impact of your support
The UBC Civil Engineering 1949 Bursary Fund was established by the Class of 1949 to support students in financial need. As president of the reunion committee, Ray believed that alumni were part of the University for life.
Making a gift to this fund will directly support a civil engineering student in financial need to achieve their potential at UBC, and will be an appropriate way to remember Ray and his contributions to civil engineering at the University.