Neil P. Riggs, who personified the quintessential engineer’s engineer, passed away on the 13th of July, 2023 at the age of 74 with his sister, Heather, at his side.
Neil is predeceased by mother and father Thomas and Phyllis Riggs, his life partner, Anita Soodeen and leaves to mourn his younger sister Heather Riggs and husband Clyde Osmond, step-son Jason Soodeen and partner Heidi Setzer, and step daughter Jessica Soodeen and husband Gorka Eizmendi Iriondo. He leaves various cousins and great friends mourning as well.
Neil P. Riggs was born on Oct 15, 1948, in St. John’s NL and grew up there, attending St. Patrick’s boys’ school, and Brother Rice High School. His mother Phyllis (Ridgeley) worked in fashion management and was dedicated to their family. His father, Thomas was a member of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.
Neil was a true pioneer at the beginnings of NORDCO and was a guiding hand behind many successful ocean engineering companies in Newfoundland and Labrador. Neil was a mechanical engineer by training and came to the newly established degree granting Faculty of Engineering at Memorial University in 1969, after other brief studies. He was part of the first Bachelor of Engineering graduating class, that “Launched into the Deep” in 1974. Befitting being part of this first pioneering class, his Iron Ring number was 57. An engineering graduate today would be in the 6400s.
Throughout his career, Neil offered sound guidance to the many young engineers that came his way, often finding themselves in the first real engineering job that they ever held. His advice was always to take to heart the Oath of an Engineer and bring skill and an attention to detail to their job, so that they would always be proud of their work.
Neil was a rare breed of engineer that had he chose, could have been a writer. He brought this capability to his work, elevating his documentation to set a high standard. He was the “scribe” of many technology development efforts, and a proposal savant that brought many funded projects to Newfoundland. He enjoyed writing, and it showed with an attention to detail that built trust with his readers. His presence on a project team instantly established credibility with funders and made him many friends and colleagues.
Neil executed his craft with a focus of mind and dedication to be admired by all engineers that crossed his path. Neil shepherded some of the earliest commercial underwater acoustics development projects in Newfoundland, laying the foundation for precursors of such later companies as Kraken, Notus, eSonar and others. His work was centered on the northern ocean with all its challenges. It is no wonder he was a great fan of Scott Goudie, owning many of his earliest preprints.
Later in his career, he found a home back where he started, at Memorial University. This time he was the guiding engineering hand behind ocean research projects that were led by internationally renowned researchers. He knew, after an accomplished career, that successful engineering is all about understanding how things fail, and then working to ensure they don’t.
Neil’s cremation has taken place and a Celebration of life will be held on Saturday, July 29 from 2-4 p.m. at Carnell’s Funeral Home, 329 Freshwater Road.
Carnell’s Funeral Home
329 Freshwater Road
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