Remembering Ray Wightman


 

Ray Wightman (1929-2017) was the third generation of the Wightman family to head Wightman Telephone. He joined the company in 1948, when his father Benjamin died, and worked closely with his mother Leila to bring Wightman Telephone into the modern era. Upon Leila’s death in 1976, Ray took full command of the company, and lead it until his retirement in 1987.  During Ray’s tenure, Wightman Telephone went from magneto telephones to dial, telephone wires came off the poles and were buried underground, and the cellular phone was introduced. Under Ray’s leadership, Wightman Telephone expanded and grew.  Through his continual upgrading of the Wightman Telephone system, Ray Wightman helped to reduce rural isolation and he gave the agricultural community an important tool for operating in a global economy.

 

Throughout his career and retirement, Ray remained active in his community. He was a director and lifelong member of the Clifford Rotary Club. He served for 37 years on the Clifford Volunteer Fire Department, rising to the position of deputy-chief, and also served on the Clifford Public School Board where he was involved in the construction of the Minto-Clifford school in Harriston (1963-1964). He served for 11 years on Clifford municipal council, including two terms as reeve and two terms on Wellington County council.

 

Ray was also recognized for his work at the provincial level as an advocate for rural telephone companies and his role in 1965 as a founder of the Ontario Telephone Association (OTA). He was OTA president in 1973 and named Honourary Life Member in 1995. In 2007, Ray was inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame for his lifelong efforts on behalf of rural telephone users. In 2012, in honour of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, Ray was the recipient of a Diamond Jubilee medal in recognition for his commitment to public service and community involvement, and for modernizing communication services in Wellington County by establishing what is now Wightman Telecom.