Riding remembered for opinions

Lung disease takes tireless Maple Ridge volunteer.

Lorne Riding ran in federal and municipal elections.

Lorne Riding ran in federal and municipal elections.

One of Maple Ridge’s more well-known commentators and characters died Sunday following a long battle with lung disease.

Lorne Riding, a regular commentator on community issues, in letters and on social media, and a former federal and civic political candidate, had been dealing with lung conditions for a while, said his niece, Dawn Krahn.

Riding, 72, had emphysema for a long time, “then he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease many years ago,” Krahn added.

On Friday, he started developing chest pains and was taken to Ridge Meadows Hospital with a collapsed lung. He died two days later at about 3:45 p.m. on Sunday.

Krahn said her uncle was comfortable and died peacefully and didn’t want heroic measures taken to keep him alive.

Riding’s wife Judy said her husband had been frail and weak for a long time.

“In the last few months, it was kind of getting worse slowly.”

That kept him from accepting speaking engagements and slowed down his busy schedule.

“For years, he had meetings almost every night for different volunteer causes. And then when his health failed, he was so mad because he couldn’t do anything.”

Riding originally was from Saskatchewan and is survived by a daughter and two grandsons, his wife, niece and two nephews.

“He was known by a lot of people, but he didn’t have a big family,” Krahn said.

“He was very busy. He was involved in everything.”

Riding was president of Special Olympics B.C. for several years and was on the board of Ridge Meadows Association for Community Living and had been a long-time member of the B.C. Canadian Power and Sail Squadron.

For years, he had an old 36-foot boat built in the 1950s and Judy said there was always a joke that he liked his boat more than his wife.

But he sold that eventually and the couple took to motorhomes, although he found that difficult.

Riding used to run the Grasby’s Men’s Wear store in Haney Place Mall, said Judy.

“It was high-end men’s wear, so it wasn’t exactly the best town for that. I said you’ve got to sell sweat pants and cowboy boots. And he hated sweat pants, hated, hated, hated.”

He was also politically involved, having ran for the federal Liberals, then joining the Conservatives. Provincially, he was Liberal and well-connected locally. He also ran for Maple Ridge council a couple times.

Former Maple Ridge councillor Sandy Macdougall said Riding will be missed  and that he used to joke with him that the only thing he got elected to was strata council.

Two of Riding’s favourite pastimes were drinking coffee at Blenz, across from Maple Ridge city hall, and writing letters to the editor.

If the weather was OK, Riding would jump on his scooter and zoom up to the coffee shop and discuss the issues with his buddies.

“He had a lot feedback all over town from his letters so that was kind of funny. I didn’t always agree with him, but others did,” Judy said.

Many people knew him, she added.

“He knows everybody I don’t know how he does it. He only goes to Blenz. But he’s been around town a long time.”

Service arrangements still have to be confirmed.