Brock University President Jack Lightstone has expressed deep sadness and offered condolences on behalf of the institution after learning of the death of Roy Cairns, whom he calls “an inspiring community builder characterized by true vision and generosity.”
Cairns, who passed away Oct. 26 at the age of 86 after a lengthy battle with cancer, had a relationship with Brock that spanned nearly half a century.
In 2010, the longtime St. Catharines lawyer and businessman and his family contributed a $6.8-million gift — structured to have a $10-million impact — that is helping the University build the major research facility that now bears their name. The Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex is scheduled to open in the spring of 2012.
And in June 2009, he became Dr. Roy Cairns when the University awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in recognition of his commitment to his local community.
But as far back as 1962 — two years before the University was even operational — Cairns contributed to the Brock University Founding Fund. His support carried on for decades. He assisted Brock’s Science Development Fund, was a key member of the team who helped build Taro Hall for the Faculty of Business in the 1990s. He also created the Roy Cairns Scholarship in order to help first-year oenology and viticulture students support Niagara’s grape and wine industry.
“Roy believed passionately in the importance of community,” said Lightstone. “He was never interested in being in the spotlight himself. He was more interested in working to create important infrastructure that supported a vision so that Niagara would benefit for generations to come.
“His commitment to community has few parallels, and Roy’s leadership and presence will be very much missed. We extend our sincere condolences to the Cairns family.”
Cairns was a lifelong resident of St. Catharines. In 1953, he was a founding partner of the law firm of Chown Cairns, and in 1973 was appointed Queen’s Counsel. He completed his legal career in 2003 as Senior Counsel at Chown Cairns and was granted a life membership in the Law Society of Upper Canada, having completed 50 years practising law.
His long-time financial support went to such causes as prostate cancer research, juvenile diabetes and the United Way. He belonged to or was a director for more than a dozen community organizations, ranging from the Lincoln Law Association and St. Catharines Chamber of Commerce to Branch 24 of the Royal Canadian Legion.
There will be a funeral service on Nov. 4 at St. George’s Church at 1 p.m. There will be visitations at the church on Nov. 2 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Nov. 3 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.