Neil P. Riggs, P. Eng.

October 15, 1948 to July 13, 2023


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.



2-4 p.m. on July 29, 2023

Carnell’s Funeral Home
329 Freshwater Road
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I had the privilege of working with Neil on a couple of R&D projects many years ago, i as the consultant and him as the Professional Engineer.. He was a great man to learn from and work with. Condolences to his family and friends.

Neil and I were buddies during the mid-70s, sharing a common sense of humour (I remember his quiet chuckles) and some common friends, eg the Dumka sisters. My condolences go to his sister, Heather, and his friends. Rest easy, old friend (at which point, he would respond “I’m not *that* old”).

My deepest condolences to Neil’s family, I am very sad to hear of his passing. I was fortunate to work with Neil at AOSL at MUN and found him to be one of the kindest, most thoughtful and supportive people to work with. Neil was always a tremendous coach, cheerleader and mentor for all the students and staff on our team. Along with sharing memorable expeditions on the water, I was fortunate to take a work road trip with Neil to Bay de Verde where he grew up and it was wonderful to see where his love of the ocean, engineering and connecting with people started and continued throughout his life. Neil, you will be missed.

It was a great pleasure to work together with Neil at AOSL of Memorial University. That 5 years was full of fond memories. I remembered Neil and my supervisor worked together bringing in fundings for exciting projects. Remembered all the great and fun talks with Neil while we had meetings or did the field trips together.

Neil was one of the key enablers that helped us build and develop AOSL during that time! So, as a student then, could focus on research and always have challenging projects to work on.

Rest well Neil. Will miss you.

My condolences to Neil’s family. I first met Neil at MUN and some decades later re-connected through work I did for NDI. He was a consummate professional, intellectually inquisitive, the solver of problems and a true gentlemen. I will remember him for having the patience to explain complicated (to me) scientific priciples and their practical implications to me.

Heather, Jason and Jessica,
So sorry to hear of Neil’s passing. I first met Neil when we all lived at Freshwater Plaza as students in the early seventies. I have fond memories of our time together.
Having known the O’Leary’s in Corner Brook, and sharied the apartment at Freshwater Plaza, Anita and I drove to Calgary in 1971.
I was delighted to learn that, when Anita returned to NL, she and Neil had come together to share the latter years of their lives.

I got to know Neil through MUN. He had a significant impact on me both as a professional and as a person. I have very fond remembrances of our many interactions and think of him often.

Where Beautiful Souls Have Travelled
Beautiful Memories Remain Forever

Remembered with Love

I worked with Neil in the Autonomous Ocean Systems Lab (AOSL) and Ocean Frontier Institute. Neil meant a lot to me as a colleague, mentor and friend. Despite illness and grief, in the later part of his life, he always tried to create a positive environment at work. He never ceased to be interested in people and their stories, and his were always a treat. I fondly remember his dedication and patience at work and his upbeat spirit in meetings. I am fortunate to know him. My sincere condolences to Neil’s family and friends.

I knew Neil from my 12 years at Nautical Data International, he was highly respected by everyone who worked at NDI. Neil was part of group who helped get NDI going (along with Brian((RIP)) and others), bringing together out of work fishers and plant workers to build a digital nautical chart portfolio for all of Canada, which is still being used today by both commercial and recreational boaters. I remember him as a humble man who would talk to anyone about simple things in life and the more complicated things. I have great respect for Neil, my deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Neil was a true gentleman, and displayed a fine temperament that always made him a pleasure to work with. I was lucky enough to have many opportunities to work and socialise with Neil for a decade or so at Marport, Marine Robotics Inc, and MUN where we became great friends. I will miss our conversations and frequent travels together. My condolences to all of Neil’s family and friends. He will be missed.

Oh, the NORDCO days, I have many fond memories of them and Neil . Condolences to the family.

A Gentleman. Condolences to all family and friends. Bob MacDonald

I first met Neil at MUN and later we worked together in the early days of NORDCO where I learned from Neil, among other things, pretty much everything engineering-wise about icebergs. Our career paths diverged a little later and we lost contact over time although every now and then, I would read or hear something about Neil’s latest venture. I am sorry to read of his passing and would like to pass on my sincere condolences to his family.

Sincere condolences to Neil’s family and friends, I had the pleasure of working with Neil at CCMC 1990-1992 at the Marine Institute, it was a great pleasure to have worked with Neil on various projects.

I, and many of my colleagues, had the pleasure of working with Neil over many years. He was a gentleman and a scholar, as the saying goes. Condolences to his family and close friends.

Rest well my friend a very good life lived

I became acquainted with Neil during his more recent career at the AUV lab at MUN. He was always a warm and friendly person. Patiently taking the time to articulate things to students and guests of the lab, I had the sense of a rock-solid professional with a gentle and helpful disposition. I am very sorry to hear of his passing and wish o convey condolences to his family.

Heather,Clyde and family.So sorry to hear of Neil’s passing. He was a man of great integrity,and you both had such a special bond. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you now and in the coming days ahead. Rest in peace Neil.

I had the pleasure to work with Neil in the early 1980’s at Nordco and then again at National Petroleum. We were all so much younger then and enjoyed many a party together. Unfortunately, our paths did not cross again but I did enjoy reading about his business successes in the later years. Neil was a great guy and I was sad to hear of his passing.

To Neil’s family and friends. I worked with Neil many years ago at National Petroleum. I was a young female administrative assistant working in a male dominated engineering environment. Neil was a true gentleman, ensuring always that I was comfortable in that environment. We didn’t stay in touch unfortunately but I’ve always thought of him fondly and remember him as a very intelligent and kind man. I never hear a Cab Calloway song or reference without thinking of him.
My sincerest condolences to you all.

Please accept my sincere condolences on the death of your dear Brother. What an impressive and accomplished man he was. I know your heart must be heavy and broken. Please know I am thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers as you navigate a tremendously sad time.

Heather I am so sorry to hear the news of the passing of your brother Neil. My sincerest condolences to you and your family.

Heather, we heard from Barb today of the passing of your brother, Neil. So sorry for your loss. I echo Loretta’s words, that it is so sad that we lose touch with family as the years go by. I know your mom was so proud of both Neil’s and your accomplishments. Please accept our condolences and we hope you take strength and comfort in all your wonderful memories.
Marilyn (Taylor) Best

Heather and family,
Condolences and sympathies.
Dolores Lawrence

Dearest Heather, I received an email from Barb Ridgeley today letting me know about Neil’s passing. I am so very sorry for your loss. The last time I saw Neil I was working at NRC on the MUN campus and he stopped me and said “I’m your cousin, Neil”. It’s awful to loose touch with family, but I know there was a time in our youth when we visited and spent time together. I wish you strength to bear the loss of Neil and I send love to you, his family and friends. Reading his obit, shows the magnitude of his work and the respect of his peers. Rest in peace Neil.

I went to school with Neil at St. Pat’s and Brother Rice and were friends. We lived close to each other and were friends. I am so sorry to hear of his passing.

I too am a 1974 MUN Mechanical Engineering classmate. Neil’s obituary describes him very well indeed but one thing it does not refer to was his professional maturity prior to graduation among a very rambunctious class of young students. Neil was indeed the lighthouse that guided many of his classmates. Sadly since graduation I lost contact with him, but remember him fondly. St. Peter will indeed have a wise counsel in Neil. To his family and friends, I offer my sincere condolences.

So shocked to hear of Neil’s passing. I had the pleasure of getting to know Neil as we were both C-Core fellows doing our Masters at MUN back in 1977. To call him an Engineer’s Engineer is a well deserved tribute. He’ll be missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to work for and along side him. My condolences to his family and close friends….Les Barbour MUN Eng Class of 76 .

I was fortunate to work with him at memorial university, and I have learned a lot from him. There are many many stories that I will remember about you, and you made my time in Newfoundland different.
My deepest condolences to Neil’s family and friends.
Neil, we will miss you.

sorry to hear about Neil

Condolences to Neil’s family…. and friends, too.

Sorry to hear of your loss. Neil and I were fellow students and friends at Brother Rice for years. Condolences to you and your family..

Heather sorry to hear of Neil’s passing he was a wonderful person we had many chats at the Engineering cafe at MUN when I worked there . Mom sends her love hugs

My deepest condolences to Neil’s Family and his many, many friends.
Neil was a very special person with whom I had the fortune to work with for several years and we became friends. Remembering the road trips with him around the island, which became an excursion in the genealogy of the Riggs family, still instills a smile in me. So many stories.
We will miss you.

My condolences to Neil’s family and friends on his passing. Neil was a gentleman and a great guy who I enjoyed working with on a number of projects over the years. His soft demeanor, crackerjack mind and genuinely nice personality made for effortless progress when working through anything big or small. Rest in peace Neil. It was a pleasure to know you.

I am so sorry for the loss of your Brother.
Please accept my sincere condolences to you , Clyde and the family.
May he rest in peace.