Brian Ross Smiley

August 21, 1955 - May 4, 2024


AUGUST 21, 1955 – MAY 4, 2024

Brian Ross Smiley lived life with an unwavering enthusiasm, embracing every moment with a tenacity that defined him. In his battle against cancer, he fought fiercely, giving his all despite the odds. On May 4th, 2024, we bid farewell to a man who left a lasting impact on all who knew him.

Family was at the core of Brian’s world. His wife Linda, nicknamed Willie, his partner in life for over three decades and his beloved sons Lane (Taylor) and Blake were the lights of his life. In every goodbye to his boys, he made sure to say, “Dad loves you,” a cherished reminder of the depth of his love. Brian found immense joy in watching his boys excel in sports like hockey, lacrosse and volleyball, taking pride in their every triumph. Long walks with Linda became cherished rituals at any opportunity they could find and nights at The Heights with their friends were some of his favourite ways to spend an evening. For over 30 years, Brian and Linda lived in the same house in St. James, devoted to raising their family together in a home filled with love and memories. Brian often remarked that he was “living his bucket list”, finding fulfillment in all the experiences in his life. Brian’s life was further enriched when he became a grandfather to Theo (Lane and Taylor), embracing this new role with the same enthusiasm and love that he showed in all aspects of his life.

A storyteller at heart, Brian’s journalistic journey started as a paperboy at the age of 11 in his home town of Selkirk. The journey carried him from the newsrooms of the Spruce Grove Examiner to the pages of the Regina Leader-Post, the Calgary Sun and the Winnipeg Sun, where his passion for sharing stories resonated with readers. His coverage of major events, including the 1983 Izvestia Cup in Moscow and the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, was a testament to his talent and unwavering dedication to his craft.

From his role as a sportswriter for the Winnipeg Sun covering the Winnipeg Jets 1.0, to his time as the face and voice of Manitoba Public Insurance for 25 years, Brian’s career was filled with achievements and milestones. His dedication to coaching hockey (AA to Junior) and umpiring Slo-Pitch for 10 years at Little Mountain Sportsplex, underscored his love for sports and his community.

Brian’s days were filled with joys like watching the boats go by at Bird River while puffing on a cigar and long, leisurely boat rides, finding solace in the simple pleasures of life. His love for the outdoors extended to watching his boys waterski, along with snowmobiling together, cherishing every moment spent with his family at the cottage. Despite his love for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Winnipeg Jets, being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan posed a unique challenge.

Brian was a longtime member of the downtown Y, where he dedicated himself to staying active and engaged in various physical activities, like his favourite spin class. His commitment to fitness and wellness was evident in his regular workouts and he found joy in staying healthy and active.

Brian also dedicated his time and passion to the community, serving as Vice President of the Lee River Snow Riders Club and as President of the Bird River Cottage Association, where his leadership and dedication left a lasting impact.

His legacy extends beyond his immediate family to his mother Eleanor Epp (Frank); brother Gordon (Jennifer), niece Kathleen (Craig), nephew Brett (Courtney); sister Shauna Zastre (Shawn); sister in law Janet Ushakas (Doug), nieces Madison (Phil) and Abby, nephew Luke; and mother in law Christine Wilson. Brian is also survived by his half-brother Craig Smiley (Lisa). Brian was predeceased by his father, Ross Smiley, as well as his grandparents, John and Lily Smiley and George and Pauline Evans. Brian’s absence leaves a void in the lives of those who knew him, a tribute to the impact of a life lived fully.

One of Brian’s favorite pastimes was snowmobiling with his boys and his pal, Brian Reid. Fittingly, his sons want to build a snowmobile warm-up shelter in his memory not far from the Smiley Cottage. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Smiley Shack memorial fundraiser (etransfer, the Selkirk Regional Health Centre (etransfer or another charity of your choice, in memory of Brian.

Brian will deeply miss out on the precious moments of watching his beloved sons mature, embark on their own journeys and continue to grow families of their own. The ache of missing these family moments lingers, including the unwavering support and love he shared with his wife, Linda. Remembered for his larger-than-life persona, his mastery of colourful language and his never-ending love for barbecues, Brian leaves behind a legacy of love, laughter and unforgettable memories. May he rest in peace, surrounded by the love and memories he shared, leaving an indelible mark on all who knew and loved him.

We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all the dedicated staff and nurses at Selkirk Regional Health Centre, particularly those in the surgical ward, for their exceptional care and compassion during Brian’s time of need. Our deepest appreciation goes to Dr. Nelson Governo and Dr. Eileen Pang for their medical expertise and unwavering support throughout this journey, we are truly grateful.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, May 24th at 6:00 pm at Sturgeon Heights Community Centre, 210 Rita Street, Winnipeg.

As parting words from Brian, ‘Please remember to do the colon check’, a reminder of his caring nature and concern for others. 143 / Nug U.