Ken Sylvan Toovey, P.Eng., 62, a hard-working geotechnical
engineer who loved to get out from behind his desk, lost
his battle with cancer on March 12, 2004. Born April 14,
1941, in Torquay, Sask., he passed away surrounded by family
at his Airdrie home.
“Ken was a fighter right to the end, not letting on
for a second that he wasn’t going to beat the cancer that
attacked his body,” says a dedication supplied by his
colleagues. “He was always the happiest when people
would not talk about how he was doing but how his work was
going. In the end he knew what was happening and was looking
ahead to his new journey.”
Mr. Toovey joined the military in 1959, graduated from Royal
Roads Military College in 1963 with a bachelor of engineering
degree, and completed his military service in 1966. For almost
40 years since then he dedicated his life to his work.
His resume covers a long and distinguished career in Western
Canada. When it came to geotechnical information, Mr. Toovey
either knew it or knew who to phone to find out. His calm
demeanor and common sense approach to solving problems came
from years of experience in the trenches – literally.
“Ken always said you couldn’t be a geotechnical engineer
from an office. You have to be in the field and know what
the dirt feels like, squish it between your fingers and see
how it reacts to you,” says the dedication. “Ken
still wanted to be in the field even after he was sick, doing
the inspections and making the on-site decisions to make
people’s problems go away. That is what he thought
engineers should do.”
His other passion in life was baseball. But Mr. Toovey was
a reserved person and did not let on about baseball.
In the late 1950s when he graduated from high school, he
was offered a pitching position with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
But he turned it down for engineering.
“We in the engineering community who knew Ken are all
going to take a piece of him with us and will try and live
his standards of excellence,” says the dedication. “A
sentiment that has been repeated many times by the people
who have known him for a long time and those he just met
says it all: he was one of the good ones. Not only a good
engineer but a good man.
“Ken, you will be sorely missed but take some comfort
in knowing you have been laid to rest in an over consolidated
I guess you will have the last word on that one.”