World’s Oldest Plumber: This gentleman has seen some sh#t!

by Moe Bedard | May 8, 2024 | Retire With an Income

“Working helps keep my body fit and my brain sharp. I hope to die with a pipe wrench in my hand!” said Figley.

As we contractors age, our bodies naturally begin to slow down, and many of us assume that retirement is the inevitable next step.

But Lorne Figley was living proof that this doesn’t have to be the case.

For over 95 years, Lorne actively repaired plumbing in Saaskatoon, Canada, defying the conventional wisdom that old age means retiring to a mobile home and playing golf the remainder of your days.

With a twinkle in his eye and a wrench in his hand, Lorne continued to fix pipes, unclog drains, and break records until he left this earth. Despite his advanced age, Lorne’s passion for plumbing remained unbridled, and his story is a testament to the power of hard work, perseverance, and a zest for life.

As if defying the conventional norms of aging wasn’t enough, he also earned himself a Guinness World Record in 2018, at the ripe age of 92 for being officially recognized as the oldest active master plumber in the world, a title that has garnered him international attention and admiration.

What’s even more remarkable is that he achieved this milestone while still working a 40-hour week, fixing pipes and unclogging drains with the same level of energy and dedication that he had when he first started out in the trade over seven decades ago.

As news of his record-breaking feat spread, Lorne became an overnight sensation, with media outlets and plumbing organizations from around the world clamoring to tell his story. And yet, despite all the fanfare, Lorne remains humble and grounded, still showing up to work every day with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, ready to tackle the next plumbing challenge that comes his way.

Lorne Figley’s remarkable journey is not without its fair share of obstacles and setbacks. Despite his advanced age, he has faced and overcome numerous challenges that would have deterred a lesser person.

From treacherous winter roads to creaky joints, Lorne has persevered through it all, refusing to let anything stand in the way of his passion for plumbing.

As a young man growing up in Saskatoon, Lorne Figley’s path to becoming a plumber was not a straightforward one. Born in 1927, Lorne’s early years were marked by the Great Depression, a time when many families struggled to make ends meet.

Despite the challenges, Lorne’s parents instilled in him a strong work ethic and a sense of responsibility, which would serve him well in the years to come. After completing his high school education, Lorne began working on his family’s farm, but it wasn’t long before he felt the call to serve his country.

In 1945, Lorne enlisted in the Canadian Army, where he served for two years, including a stint in the Canadian Occupation Force in Germany. He spent the latter part of his service with the No. 664 Squadron (RAF) which was a Canadian manned Air Observation Post (AOP) squadron.

It was during his time in the military that Lorne discovered his passion for plumbing, working on pipes and fixtures in the barracks.

This experience sparked a desire to learn more, and upon his return to Saskatoon, Lorne began an apprenticeship with a local plumbing company. The rest, as they say, is history. With a strong foundation in the trade, Lorne went on to build a successful career, one that would span over seven decades and earn him numerous accolades along the way.

One of the most significant hurdles Lorne has faced is the loss of his wife, Margaret, in 2013. The couple had been inseparable for 63 years, and her passing left a gaping hole in Lorne’s life. However, even in the midst of grief, Lorne found solace in his work. He continued to fix pipes and unclog drains, using the familiar rhythm of his daily routine to cope with his loss.

Lorne Figley’s remarkable story extends far beyond his own personal achievements, as he has inspired a generation of individuals to rethink their approach to aging and retirement.

That’s over 73 years working in the trades and I’m still doing service calls for plumbing and heating. My children and grandchildren include three engineers, four PhD’s, a nurse, two lawyers and a veterinarian… but I’m the only one with a world record. Life is good.”

Sadly, in 2020, after plumbing for eight decades, Lorne Figley passed away. His obituary reads:

“After a long and industrious life, Lorne passed away at almost 97 years of age following a recent cancer diagnosis. He is survived by three children: Patricia (Les Koob), Donald (Shirley) and Curtis (Arlene); seven grandchildren (Chase, Stacey, Sarah, Amanda, Alisha, Jessica & Rachel) and eight great-grandchildren (Hailey, Keenan, Nevaeh, Brayden, Brielle, Blake, Evan & Bowen). Lorne was predeceased by his immediate family members: Josephene (wife); his parents and four brothers.

After his family, Lorne valued hard work, education and life-long learning. He held five journeyman trade certificates: plumbing, sheet metal, refrigeration and air conditioning, steamfitter and pipefitting (the latter two were separate when he qualified); an accounting certificate from the University of Saskatchewan; and was very proud of his children and grandchildren for their advanced pursuits in higher education.

Lorne operated Broadway Heating Ltd. in Saskatoon for eight decades and in recent years, became one of only a few trades people who could repair, or had the parts for many older systems.”

His legacy is not just about fixing pipes, but about breaking down barriers and stereotypes that often limit our potential. As a 95-year-old plumber, Lorne has become a beacon of hope for many, proof that age is just a number and that with determination and hard work, anything is possible.

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