Roger Blythe, Ayles, 53, passed away suddenly Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at his home in Salmon Arm BC. The Celebration of Life Service was held from the Salmar Classic Theatre on Monday afternoon May 24th, 2010, with Cappi and Jack Bowers the funeral celebrants. Tributes were given by family and friends. Memorial donations in memory of Roger may be sent to Shuswap Hospital Foundation PO Box 265 Salmon Arm BC V1E 4N3. An e-memorial has been set up at RogerAyles.ca, where you can post your memories tributes and well wishes.
A remarkable husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend; Roger lived life with tremendous honesty and fearlessness. He was a highly successful business man and a pillar in his community. He lived passionately and loved deeply. He was courageous, brilliant, and compassionate. Roger lived a life to be admired, a life that was full of excitement, love, accomplishment and relationships.
Roger was born April 13th, 1957 to Jim and Patricia Ayles in Mirfield, Yorkshire, England. He is survived by an elder brother, John, and a younger brother, Brandon. Roger grew up in Regina Saskatchewan and even at a young age there was evidence of an astonishing entrepreneurial mind. Roger collected golf balls from the bottom of golf course water hazards and sold them back to the golfers, he collected gopher tails and sold them to local farmers and he ran a store with questionable items out of his locker in high school.
Roger met Debbie at the age of 15. He was her family’s paper boy and he was thoroughly hated by the family Chiwawa Chikita, as it turns out the feelings were mutual. Roger and Deborah Ann Reid were married January 7th, 1978 in Regina Saskatchewan. This time in Roger’s life was marked by budding interests in snow skiing, water skiing, scuba diving, fixing up/selling cars and riding motorcycles. These pursuits would go from being interests to full blown passions later in his life. It was also marked by the beginnings of life long friendships which he found in people like Larry Hogelie, Aaron Moore and Doug Youmans.
On January 19th, 1981 Debbie gave birth to Cindy Ayles (Duffin) and on November 1st, 1983 Debbie gave birth to Jason Ayles. Roger embraced father-hood with enthusiasm; he understood deeply the importance of family and friends and sought to protect them, honour them, and do great things with and for them.
Recognizing the burgeoning trend in the theatre and the home entertainment industry as a tremendous opportunity; Roger and Debbie began to work towards their entrepreneurial dream. Dad worked days selling advertising for the local radio station and Debbie worked as a data entry operator. In the evenings they worked at a drive in, getting their paid education in theatre operations and projection. In 1984 they had the opportunity to take over the Roxy theatre in Revelstoke, so they packed everything they owned in a U-Haul, loaded up their six-month old and three year old, and in the middle of a prairie dust storm they traveled into their new life.
Debbie, Roger and Larry put heart and soul into the restoration of the Roxy theatre and in a very short time they were having amazing success in business. From the very first viewing of Police Academy, to opening up the video store in the theatre, to opening the first Video Express, each venture was met with incredible achievement. Though Roger and Debbie worked hard, they also played hard. They bought a cabin in Sicamous and they bought a ski boat. They went to water ski competitions, they traveled to California frequently to visit Rose and Loyd Reid in their winter residence in Sun City – and to go to Disney Land. Roger snow skied, trick skied, slalom skied, he snorkelled and spear gunned fish at the bottom of the lake.
They moved to Salmon Arm in 1988, opened Video Express and ran the local drive in. Larry Hogelie and Joe Marini ran the Roxy theatre and the video store in Revelstoke. Roger and Debbie continued to work hard and soon they had completely paid off their mortgage. Roger said on many occasion that this event opened up a world of possibilities for them. Roger recognized the opportunities that travel had for bringing his family closer together and out of this the tradition of family vacations was born. They traveled many times to Hawaii, they went to Florida, and Mexico. He also recognised the importance of doing activities together as a family. They went snow skiing, water skiing, tubing, camping, scuba diving, house boating and dirt biking.
Over time snow skiing turned to Snow Boarding, Water Skiing turned to Wakeboarding but the philosophy remained the same, do activities together to enhance relationships – in addition to kicking some ass! Roger was a competitive and talented athlete. He attempted his first back flip on a trick ski in his mid thirties and landed many more of them on his wakeboard. He competed in Water Ski and Wakeboard tournaments. He won third in the World Wake Boarding competition in 2000. Dirt and Street biking were always passions of his, later in his life he had the freedom to fully embrace this love. He picked up bikes in New York, Arizona, and Florida and drove them to across the continent to Salmon Arm. Roger dirt biked into Mexico, got lost and almost ran out of gas in a desert in California, and he pushed the envelope when dirt biking with his friends in many places in the Okanagan and Shuswap.
As a business man he worked to enhance the lives of his employees and he wanted to give back to his community. He never saw employees as just people he paid every month, he looked for opportunities to guide and empower anyone who worked for him. He was a mentor to many, an idol to some and a royal pain in the ass to others. Regardless of how his outreach was taken, the motivation was always the same. He wanted people to have success and he wanted to show them how to get it. Roger believed that it was his responsibility to give back to his community, so he actively set out to change the face of Salmon Arm. He had a major hand in many projects from the Ross Street Parking lot to the Salmar Grand Theatre. In all of these projects he accepted nothing less than the highest quality materials and techniques, and the highest level of aesthetic appeal. It is because of his commitment to quality, his philosophy towards those in his employ and what he gave to the community that he was awarded Business Person of the Year in 2005.
As a family man he was always there for his wife, children, brothers, parents grandchildren and extended family. Roger never missed an opportunity to tell someone he loved them or that he was proud of them. He loved and accepted people for who they were and he had a way of making everyone feel respected and welcome. As a husband, Roger honoured his wife, he was honest, open and sensitive to her ideas, wants and ambitions. As a father he always made time to acknowledge the accomplishments of his children, encourage their different directions of growth, teach them how to live life and love them regardless of their attitude or situation. When he made mistakes, as all fathers do, he was quick to humble himself and ensure that those relationships were rapidly back on the path to healing. As a friend he was devoted, understanding and encouraging. As a grandfather he played with childlike enthusiasm. As a father in law he was supportive, encouraging, generous and kind. There isn’t one single person that he loved who doesn’t know that he loved them.
Roger Blythe Ayles, 53 was a great man and as it is with great men he leaves a mighty void. He will be missed achingly, but he would not want us to morn his death as much as he would want us to celebrate his life. He leaves an unbelievable legacy of passion, friendship, compassion, loyalty, adventure and love. He lived his life balls to the wall and as he was so fond of saying, “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.” Roger Blythe Ayles will live forever in our hearts in the way that we live our lives, in the bricks and mortar he put together in the town that he loves, in our thoughts, memories and future plans. Good bye Roger, you were loved and you will be greatly missed.