October 15,1907 – October 23, 2004
Bill was born in Lerwick on the Shetland Islands, located off the NE coast of Scotland. Bill and his parents emigrated to Canada in 1911, settling in Vancouver.
When World War 1 broke out, his father enlisted in the army, joining the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada. Bill, along with his mother and brother returned to Scotland where they remained for the duration of the war, not returning to Vancouver until 1919.
Bill decided at an early age that school was not where he wanted to be, so against his parent’s wishes he quit on his 15th birthday with no regrets. Despite lacking a formal education. Bill was always able to find work; butcher’s helper, department store security guard, door to door salesman, carpenter’s helper, plumber’s helper, miner, logger and business partner with his cousin in a service station were just a few of the jobs he had as a young man. In 1927 he went to sea working on the CPR’s Pacific Coastal Steamships as a steward and dining room waiter. Bill always enjoyed the sea and except for the six years he was overseas he remained with the CPR until 1951.
In 1938 Bill met a school teacher from Alberta named Norma Nelson. Like his father before him. Bill was a member of the Seaforth Highlanders, and with storm clouds gathering over Europe making war a certainty, Bill and Norma decided to marry on Sept 10, 1939 which turned out to be the day Canada officially declared war on Nazi Germany. Only three months later on Dec 15th, Bill started on the long journey overseas with his regiment and kissed his new bride goodbye at Vancouver’s CPR railroad station, neither of them realizing they would not see one another again for nearly six years!
Bill’s regiment was part of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, the first troops to embark from Canada and they arrived in Britain just in time for a cold Christmas. Bill was a Company Sergeant Major when the 1st Div took part in the invasion of Sicily on July 10, 1943. He spent a year and a half in Italy during the costly Italian Campaign before transferring to NW Europe at the beginning of ‘45 and he was in Holland in May at the conclusion of hostilities in Europe. Bill was always proud of his association with the Seaforths and was an Honorary Life Member of the Regimental Association. He traveled to Vancouver many times to attend reunions.
Bill and Norma’s son Ric was born in August 1946 and Bill left his job as Second Steward on the CPR boats in 1951 to purchase and operate a tavern in Bremerton, Washington. In 1958 they moved back to B.C. and in August arrived in Terrace where they owned and operated “The” Motel for 29 years before purchasing a house on Scott Ave.
While in Terrace, Bill led an active life being a member of the Legion, the B.P.O.E. Elks, the Masonic Lodge and the Shrine Club.
Bill enjoyed hunting and fishing and over the years went on numerous trips with friends and family. Bill was on his last fishing trip just four years ago when he was 93 years of age with his son and two grandsons – guess who caught all the fish? All those years of experience humbled the younger generation.
He and Norma enjoyed numerous trips to Hawaii, Mexico, Britain and Europe. At 88 years of age he and son Ric with grandchildren Laura and Ric attended the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Holland. At the lengthy veterans parade in Appeldoom, on an unusually hot day, Bill marched the entire distance when many younger men accepted rides in vehicles.
This typified Bill’s amazing stamina with which he was blessed for most of his long life. Bill’s motto was “When you work, WORK HARD and when you play, PLAY HARD”. With a mischievous grin and a gleam in his eye, he would be the first to admit that he sometimes took both to the extreme.
In his early 80’s Bill became active in the Senior’s Games. He competed for several years and traveled as far as San Antonio, Texas in addition to numerous locations in B.C. A fall which resulted in a broken hip put an end to his track & field activities but he continued to enjoy following the accomplishments of his former team mates.
Bill & Norma celebrated 60 years of marriage in 1999 and following Norma’s passing a year later Bill accepted the invitation of Ric and his wife Lynn to move in with them. Here he stayed until illness caused him to be hospitalized a month ago. While in the hospital Bill celebrated his 97th birthday with friends and family and enjoyed holding his newest great grandson who was born five days earlier.
Bill was a devoted family man and there was nothing he would not do for his immediate family members, particularly when it came to his beloved grandchildren. Needless to say he was loved dearly by his family and he will be greatly missed by son Ric, daughter-in-law Lynn, grandchildren Laura, Cathy (Craig), Stacy, Ricky and great-grandchildren, Aija, Craig and Hudson.
We would like to express our gratitude to family and friends who showed their support with phone calls, flowers, cards and food. A special thank you to Dr. Appleton and the staff at Mills Memorial Hospital for their compassion and understanding.