Angus lee Simpson, who has died aged 78, was always a man of kindness, integrity, and loyalty with a loving, caring nature and a gentle wit. He was a dutiful and devoted family man, thoughtful business leader, dedicated gardener, lover of golf, cricket, rugby and bodysurfing, and in his later years an accomplished landscape artist. His life was divided by a move from his homeland, South Africa, to Canada which he remained committed to and travelled regularly as he built a successful national business from Vancouver.
Angus Lee Simpson (1959W) | 1942 - 2020
Angus, at times nicknamed ‘Anguish’ for his inclination to show concern for the matters at hand, was born in Cape Town. Due to Angus’s chubbiness as a baby, he and his beloved sister Dianna, to whom he was very close, were nicknamed ‘Pork and Pie’. Gus, another nickname, spent his formative years in Salisbury (Rhodesia), Port Elizabeth (South Africa), and as a boarder at Bishops Diocesan College in Cape Town, like many of the boys in his family before and after him. He would make the three-day train journey there alone from a young age, and while there, developed a talent for cricket, rugby and art, nurturing several lifelong friends, and finding a firm Christian faith. He also fostered a love of music and song and could play a bit of guitar and harmonica.
One of Angus’s passions growing up was body surfing in the waves off Plettenberg Bay, where his parents kept a quaint little retreat named ‘Pop-in Cottage’, a thatched single-story bungalow overlooking the bay. His father once challenged him to hit a golf ball from the balcony into the lagoon below, which he accomplished with great pride. He and his ‘Plett’ chums also mastered a particular style of body surfing where they would create a sort of hydrofoil with arms at their side, shoulders curved inwards and heads up, kicking with the wave until they could plane down the face of it with great speed, and often ride the surf right up to the beach.
A stint at Durban University following Bishops saw Angus excel in the university golf team where he became a 7-handicap golfer. The commitment to that and related activities put a strain on his studies causing his father to cut further funding for studies and turn his son towards a career in industrial tool sales. Not long after, in 1967, Angus met and married the love of his life, Gillian Leary, a ‘Durban girl’ whose father happened to also be Angus’s family doctor.
Like many of his contemporaries, he was conscripted as a reserve intelligence officer in the South African Army, which prompted the decision to leave his beloved homeland and its increasingly dark politics. And so, it was a painful and difficult departure for him and his young wife as they took the decision to emigrate to Canada with their two young children, leaving behind beloved family and friends and natural beauty unlike any other.
However, life in Canada, firstly in Edmonton, where Angus found himself up to his neck in a snowdrift one day while coming home from work, and then subsequently in more temperate Vancouver, was blissful for him and his young family. They made many lifelong friends through the ex-pat community and with local Canadians, and Angus established a successful small Japanese-owned business as CEO of Kito Canada, which grew largely as a result of his integrity, ethics, and skill at employing young staff with similar values. One colleague wrote recently, "he was the best kind of boss, a true team leader who encouraged individual strengths, and respected individual views." He was also highly respected and warmly encouraged by his Japanese superiors, some of whom he developed close friendships with for many years despite the language barrier and distance.
Angus’s love of water evolved to sailing off the coast of British Columbia in a little sailboat named Leprechaun with its fittingly rainbow coloured jib and green hull. Gilly and the children would join Angus at the helm on many happy overnight trips up Howe Sound, mooring and playing on log booms, or to the Gulf Islands, in the early 1980s. In his later years, Angus cherished time spent at Hollyburn Country Club and Squamish Golf Course with his tennis and golfing buddies and could often be seen swimming with an elegant crawl across West Bay on a summer evening.
Throughout his life, Angus loved to garden and created some beauties, always with a desire to attract colourful birdlife. He had an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of flowering plants and birds. As time went on, this love transformed into a passion for landscape painting which manifested into several successful local West Vancouver exhibitions that were a nod to the inspiration of an uncle and great uncle, who were both accomplished artists.
His last few years were marred by a series of strokes which Angus battled through convincingly with Gillian’s infectious enthusiasm as a support, but related health issues wore him down in the end and he died a peaceful death at a local hospice with Gillian faithfully at his side on August the 3rd, 2020.
A gentleman through to the end, he will be greatly missed and leaves his wife Gillian, daughter Louise (Peter) granddaughter Emma, son James (Madeline), and grandchildren Pippa, Livia and Theo, beloved sister Dianna (Gordon) and nephews Paul, Andrew and Richard, and a wonderful extended family.
A special thank you to Liza and Roselyn who cared for him so lovingly and with such grace over the past year.
A private family service will be held at St. Francis in the Woods, West Vancouver.
For those who wish, donations may be made to the CNIB, for whom Angus was a volunteer, or to a charity of your choice in Angus's memory.
May he rest in peace.