World’s oldest plumber, veteran, passes away

Lorne Figley, a Saskatchewan-born WWII veteran and the world’s oldest plumber according to the Guinness Book of Records, has died. He was 96 years old.

“I think what a great life he had, what a great father he was and grandfather and great-grandfather he was,” said Don Figley, Lorne’s eldest son.

Lorne had been running Broadway Heating, a plumbing and heating business in Saskatoon, since the 1950s.

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Although he was well past retirement age, he kept the shop open to keep busy and help others, according to his son.

“He likes to work. He likes doing things for other people, ”Don said.

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Don told Global News that his father had “made virtually no money” in the past 30 years for helping people who couldn’t afford the components and repairs they needed.

“But he worked a lot and had a lot of fun. Many of his customers were his friends. “

Don attributed his father’s work ethic – social calls and family visits always included something to fix – and generosity to his time growing up on a farm going through the Great Depression.

Lorne was born in 1924 in Sanctuary, Sask., A hamlet about 185 kilometers southwest of Saskatoon.

He worked on a farm until he was old enough to enroll in 1942 – though his eldest son doubts his father waited that long.

Lorne Figley after joining the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Supplied by Shirley Figley

“He joined the army when he was about 18 years old. I think his age pushed it a bit,” Don said.

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Lorne joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and eventually worked with the No. 664 Squadron of the Royal Air Force’s Air Observation Post.

According to a media guide published by Veterans’ Affairs Canada ahead of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands and the Allied victory in Europe, the pilots of the 664 were tasked with locating Nazi positions and sending them back to the Allied artillery.

It was Lorne’s job to update the security codes every day so that the Germans couldn’t overhear.

He never took his eyes off the equipment and even put a bed on the back of his truck so he could always keep watch.

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The man from rural Saskatchewan spent the final months of the war in Germany and the Netherlands and received multiple medals, but Don said his father rarely talked about the war.

“He didn’t think it was something to brag about, it was just a job you did.”

After returning to Canada, Lorne enrolled at Sask Polytechnic, entered the trade and became an apprentice. He opened Broadway Heating Ltd.

In 2015, the institute announced an award with Figley’s name for the student who receives top marks for his journeyman examination in all professions.

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At the time, he told Global News that he had no plans to retire and intended to die with a pipe wrench in hand.

He almost did it. He continued working until the end of August.

Speaking to Global News on the Saturday after the funeral, Don said he, his siblings, and all of Figley’s grandchildren were sad but also very grateful for his life.

“He won the lottery – it’s an amazing life,” said Don.

Supplied by Shirley Figley

Lorne and Josephine Figley

“You have to give it up one day so that he can get his money’s worth.”

Don said that the fact that his father had taught him to look on the good side of things helped his grief because he realized that his father’s death would also mean some kind of reunion.

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Lorne’s wife Josephine died a few years earlier.

They are now in the same urn – next to some of Lorne’s tools.

With files from David Giles

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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