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"LYB" 2008 Obituary


LYBARGER 

LYBARGER o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-06-26 published
BALLANTYNE, Michael Alan
Born February 27, 1945. Passed away on June 19, 2008 at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, in the loving arms of his wife and children. Beloved husband of Penny, devoted father of Erin (Michael NARDONE,) Alexandra and Nick and adored Pop-Pop to granddaughter Uma. Eldest son of the late Al and Barbara BALLANTYNE, brother of Alan, Steven, John (Pat) and Bob, uncle of Michelle, Andrea, Denise, Jennifer, Katie, Aliya, Chelsea and Amanda, Chris, Ethan, Seth, Matthew, Ian and Sean. Also survived by in-laws Gordon and Gladys AUMOND, and Mike AUMOND (Carmen) and Debra AUMOND (Russ LYBARGER.) Mike's childhood was spent on military bases in Canada, the U.S.A., and Europe. After high school in Ottawa, he studied political science at Carleton University, but left after his third year to join the civil rights movement in the U.S., registering black voters in rural Alabama and experiencing the hospitality of an Alabama jail. He joined the March on Washington and heard Martin Luther King's famous 'I have a dream' speech. He spent the next ten years travelling and working in Africa, South America, Europe and Asia. True to form, he managed to be in the most unstable and dangerous (he would say exciting) locations as often as possible. With his great friend, the late Larry Uteck, he made his way through Asia, staying to work for Save the Children Fund in Vietnam and Cambodia during the last years of the war. He and Larry travelled up the Mekong River under fire, and were together in Phnom Penh when it fell. Michael's children much preferred stories of Dad's travels to any others. Michael first came to Yellowknife in 1969 to visit his parents, who had settled there after his father retired from the Army to serve as the first Director of Industry in the newly established Territorial Government. He later worked at the Giant Yellowknife Gold Mine, and served on the CASAW executive. He won a seat on City Council in 1978, followed by two terms as Mayor of Yellowknife from 1979-83. Michael was elected in 1983 as the Member of the Legislative Assembly, and was appointed to Cabinet in 1985, serving as Minister of Finance and Minister of Justice, among other appointments. Following re-election in 1991, Michael was elected Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and oversaw the construction and opening of the distinctive Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly building. He did not seek election for a fourth term. His colleagues recall his talents in building bridges and achieving consensus on major issues both inside and outside of government. Michael was a founding Director of the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre and worked closely from 1980-83 with Roy Megarry and Richard DOYLE of the Globe and Mail newspaper to raise funds to build a performing arts theatre in Yellowknife. He also served on the boards of many sports and community associations. In 1996, Michael joined Aber Resources Ltd., (now Harry Winston) serving as Vice President, Northwest Territories. Together with colleagues at Rio Tinto, Michael helped meet the early challenges of constructing the Diavik diamond mine north of Yellowknife, bringing it into operation and establishing the mine's reputation as a respected member of the Northwest Territories's corporate community. From 2002-2005, he also held an appointment as Vice-President of Laurelton Diamonds Inc (a subsidiary of Tiffany and Co.) and worked closely with Tiffany to establish a diamond cutting and polishing plant in Yellowknife. Michael loved nothing more than solving complex problems, and he was a master of sensitive negotiations. He loved the diamond industry, and the north, and despite his failing health, found it impossible to retire, continuing to work for Harry Winston until the time of his death. A big man with a booming voice, sharp intellect and an irrepressible sense of humour, Mike loved a good debate, preferably one that was complex, nuanced and went on into the wee hours. He read voraciously and was a fully involved citizen of the world. He loved politics, sports, military history, his Friends and family, and had a deep empathy for the vulnerable amongst us. He practiced a private and direct kindness, and treated everyone with respect. He especially enjoyed his children's Friends, and liked nothing better than to 'hold court' with a group of young people, engaging and challenging them and sharing stories of his travels and adventures. A sudden, catastrophic illness in 2000 led to a liver transplant, made possible by the selflessness of an anonymous donor, for which Mike's family will be forever grateful. The next eight years were 'bonus' years, as he liked to call them, spent enjoying every well moment to the fullest, and enduring many health challenges with strength and without complaint. The family would like to express their deep gratitude to the Liver Transplant Team at the University of Alberta Hospital for their miracles, expert care and kindness over the last eight years. A very special thanks to Kate and her compassionate staff on 3G2. Thanks also to Doctor Peter Kallos for his Friendship and care of Michael for many years, and to Doctor Richard Nuttall, the CTU, West 2 and Intensive Care Unit staff at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 11: 30 a.m. at Saint_John the Divine Anglican Church, 1611 Quadra Street, Victoria, British Columbia. A memorial celebration is also planned for July 26, 2008 in Yellowknife, at the Yellowknife Community Arena. In memory of Michael, please consider signing an organ donation card and informing your family that you have done so. If desired, donations to the University Hospital Foundation, 1H191 WMC, 8440 - 112 St. N.W., Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2B7, may be made in Michael's name; please indicate that the donation is for the Liver Transplant Program. Memories and condolences may be forwarded to ballantynefamily@yahoo.ca.

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