“Mr. Sarnia” Ray Curran was respected by labour and industry

The late Ray Curran, second from left, with friends, local marina owner and manager Dave Brown, left; businessman and former Sarnia mayor Ron Gordon; and Andy Brandt, right, a former mayor and MPP for whom the Sarnia Bay Marina has been renamed. Submitted Photo

Tara Jeffrey

Community members are mourning the loss of industry and labour pioneer Ray Curran, a man known as “Mr. Sarnia.”

“Our community really lost a true icon,” Bridgeview Marina owner Dave Brown said of his longtime friend, who died Jan. 2 at age 91.

Curran was a founding member of the Sarnia Construction Association and chair of the Labour Relations Council, and was known for how he “successfully quarterbacked between business and industry,” said Brown.

“He was also humble and quiet. He helped with so many charities and causes, but didn’t want the fanfare. He had a massive heart of gold.”

Curran was born on the family farm in Brigden and moved to Corunna, where he and his brother took active roles in their father’s company, now Curran Contractors, to help “build and maintain the infrastructure of Sarnia’s Chemical Valley,” his obituary noted.

His community involvement included serving on Lambton College’s board of governors, Bluewater Power board of directors, director of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Development Commission, the Chamber of Commerce Energy Committee, and chair of the Construction Employers Coordinating Council of Ontario.

“As a key supporter of the Lambton College Foundation, Ray remained invested in the growth and development of Lambton College,” the obituary said.

He is also remembered for the respect he showed for colleagues on both sides of the negotiating table.

Actively interested in politics, Curran was vocal when dealing with government about “what Ray called our ‘bread and butter’ — the chemistry industry,” noted Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, who began calling Curran ‘Mr. Sarnia’ years ago.

“He could walk with business and labour with total respect,” the mayor said.

A lover of baseball, he played for the Corunna Giants, Sarnia Braves and Sarnia Red Sox.

But above all else, he was a father, grandfather and great-grandfather and his family always came first, Brown said.

“That was his priority — he loved them so much.”