Biography of Wilf Reny - O/D d. June 13, 2008Viewers able to provide more information (stories or photos) are asked to contact Dan Delong.
Extracted from the photo of the Crew of the Nene on deck taken March 1945
Photo from the book "NENE LIVES The Story of H.M.C.S. Nene & her Crew" - 1993
Wilf Reny was born in Montreal, Quebec on June 29, 1926. He was the fourth child of Wilfred Reny and Mary Sarah McDonald. He was the only boy and was spoiled by his mother and older sisters. Wilf attended a Catholic school in Montreal and met his future wife Rita Barrett during their first communiion at ages 7 and 6 respectively. Wilf was an air cadet and lied about his age to enlist in WWII. After the war, he followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather becoming an electrician. While Wilf was in the navy, Rita joined the convent. She called him one day after the war to come and get her. Wilf and Rita were lifelong friends and companions and were married on his birthday in 1953.
Wilf left the electrical business due to safety concerns when gas was introduced into the construction industry and became involved in sales and business development, a career that would see him through retirement at age 67. Wilf and Rita (a teacher) travelled extensively during the first 10 years of marriage. He took Rita to many of the places he liked in Europe during the war. In 1963, Wilf and Rita had their first child, Laura followed by a boy, Bill in 1964. During their early years as a family, Wilf travelled 40 plus weeks a year working for Hilti Tools as a General Manager opening up markets across Canada and Mexico.
In 1977, Wilf moved the family from Montreal to Calgary, Alberta as a result of the changing political landscape in Quebec and the resulting economic situaiton. Wilf joined Dover Elevators in Calgary, generating record sales and winning many sales contests and awards. During those years he would often take his son Bill out of school to go on business trips with him. He was a very good sport taking up camping in the mountains and skiing at the age of 51. Every winter Wilf and his son would spend a week skiing in the mountains and several weekends a year camping in the mountains.
In 1986 Wilf became a grandfather with the birth of his daughter Laura's first child - Kimberly. Wilf and Rita were very active in the raising of Kimmy and eventually her sister Keri. Wilf retired in 1993 at the age of 67. The last 6 years of his career he worked for an electrical equipment distributor, Simpson Maxwell. Wilf would later tell his son that this was the job he enjoyed most in his career. Rita died on February 16, 2001. For the first time in 68 years, Wilf was without Rita. It was very challenging for him to adjust to life without her.
Wilf was the poster child of hard work and never allowed himself to be idle. He poured even more energy into his grandchildren, their friends and doing all kinds of revenovation projects on Laura's house. His son Bill had relocated to Vancouver in 1993 and to Hong Kong in 2000. Bill and his wife Debbie, gave Wilf two granddaughters and a grandson (born in Hong Kong). One of Wilf's greatest trips was when he went to visit Bill and his family in Hong Kong the year after Rita's death. After Bill moved back to Vancouver in 2004, Wilf would visit every 6 months. During one visit around Christmas in 2006, Bill's wife mentioned that Wilf put us all to shame working 16 hours a day - doing home repairs and renovations.
In January 2005, Wilf was diagnosed with esophagus cancer. He dealt with it very well, enduring radiation therapy with never a complaint. The cancer went into remission but in the end it came back with a furry. Wilf passed away on June 13, 2008, 16 days before his 82nd birthday. Someone told me that it was one of the best services they have ever been to because of the number of young people in attendance. This was a testiment to the people Wilf touched in his life and his impact spanned many generations. As he said to me in one of our final conversations when I asked if he was afraid of dying "what do I have to complain about. I lived a great life, through the best times in history and have watched my children and grandchildren grow up. I've beaten the odds!"
Wilf was always extremely proud of his time spent in the navy. He always described himself as a navy man. The crew photo and his metals were proudly displayed in his living room and are now proudly displayed in my dining room.
Written by Bill Reny (Wilf's son)
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Webmaster: Dan Delong - Updated: November 30, 2002