Meet Calgary's Top 7 Over 70

This year's Top 7 Over 70 award recipients include entrepreneurs, philanthropists and business leaders.

The annual awards recognizes the achievements of Calgarians aged 70 or older

The seven individuals set to be recognized as part of the annual Top 7 Over 70 awards were announced on Thursday. (Monty Kruger)

The concept of retirement is sometimes associated with slowing down, enjoying one's free time and occasionally scheduling Jeopardy! viewing appointments.

But for the seven Calgarians nominated as part of the annual Top 7 Over 70 awards, retirement is just another chance to further one's personal development.

The nominees were hosted during a luncheon on Thursday and include leaders in charity, entrepreneurship and business — and this year, all are over the age of 80.

Here's your look at seven individuals who are keeping busy well into their golden years.

Bob Brawn, 83. (Monty Kruger)

Robert Brawn, 83

Brawn started work in the oil and gas industry in 1958 and has been involved in some capacity or another ever since.

Since turning 70, Brawn has worked to develop an attraction at Calgary's Heritage Park that celebrates the area's natural resources industry.

Brawn said the excitement of living gets him up in the morning, adding he still exercises every day.

"Get involved," he said. "Get an education, for sure, but don't be afraid to do anything. Just do whatever turns you on. Get at it, do it well and get involved."

Sylvia Rempel, 83 (Monty Kruger)

Sylvia Rempel, 83

After immigrating to Canada, Rempel started a small business called Sun Ice which went on to become a $30-million company and supplier to the 1988 Olympic Games.

"That was a big deal for us, in 1988," Rempel said. "That was a busy time. We still are recognized with doing the Olympics."

Rempel started an international charity called Sewing Seeds in 2002 that is focused on teaching skills to disadvantaged women in foreign countries.

"These women are so special and so hardworking and they have nothing. So we supply food and clothing and the technical projects," Rempel said.

Sewing Seeds Canada's annual gala is being held Oct. 19 at the Hamptons Golf Club.

Ken Stephenson, 86. (Monty Kruger)

Ken Stephenson, 86

When he was 70, Stephenson help lead the railway industry away from wood or concrete railway ties to steel ties. 

He was also a leading sponsor behind what is now the Stephenson Cardiac Imaging Centre at Foothills Hospital, which opened in 2005 and now performs 4,000 scans each year.

Stephenson said Calgary is a city with a strong philanthropic community, something he said he hoped continued through the economic downturn.

"I think the best recipe for happiness is to do well what you do as work, but keep balance in your life with your family and friends and not to lose track of that," he said. 

Jacqueline Cameron, 81 (Monty Kruger)

Jacqueline Cameron, 81

Cameron formed Super-Fly Apparel, a line of clothing for those with mobility challenges, after her husband developed a rare disease.

"As things became difficult, I knew I would have to do something to his clothes in order for him to stay at home," she said. "So that's how Super-Fly started. It actually wasn't meant to be a business, it was done out of love and compassion for him."

Cameron said having a purpose in life empowers individuals to accomplish anything their put their mind to.

"My purpose is totally bigger than myself. There are so many people in need of what Super-Fly is," she said. "My advice would be, if you have a dream, and you think you could, do something."

Gus Yaki, 87 (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Gus Yaki, 87

Yaki started the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society at age 72 and still raises significant sums of money for conservation organizations.

"I love the world," he said. "You can never exhaust it. I'm always out there looking for new information."

Since turning 70 years of age, it's estimated he has presented to 7,000 people at schools, parks, libraries and more, according to a release.

"We've got to look after the planet. I'm afraid that what we're doing to the planet is not very good for it," he said. "The young people today may not have a future. So we've got to change our ways. Let's save the planet, because it's the only home for mankind." 

Dr. John Lacey, 87 (Monty Kruger)

Dr. John Lacey, 87

With a background in oil and gas exploration and pipeline technology, Lacey used his golden years to benefit many of Calgary's arts organizations.

"That is rather funny because I am a person who literally does not even know a note of music," he said. "Yet I helped rescue the Calgary Philharmonic and brought a very large music program for the benefit of the music community."

Lacey's guidance helped the Calgary Philharmonic return to financial growth and his music programs helped bring world-class talent to Calgary.

Dr. Eldon Smith, 80 (Top 7 Over 70)

Dr. Eldon Smith, 80

Following Smith's career as a surgeon and cardiovascular specialist, he began treating heart failure using a cannabinoid compound to treat inflammation. 

Utilizing that research, Smith began a new company that went public in 2019. He's also started a berry farm to export the Haskup berry, touted for its potential health and antioxidant benefits.

Bonnie DuPont with the Top 7 Over 70 said it was important to recognize the contributions of older adults.

"The seven people that we are recognizing have had phenomenal accomplishments after they have turned 70," she said. "They've taken new directions, they've started new enterprises, they've made new discoveries.

"They've made huge contributions and we just want to keep recognizing that."

The biannual Top 7 Over 70 held its inaugural event in 2017 and will honour this year's recipients during a gala scheduled October 17.

With files from Monty Kruger


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