Rocky View County (RVC) resident and Second World War veteran Bill Ward’s 100th birthday was unlike any he had celebrated before.
On May 18, Ward and his family celebrated his centennial with a drive-by parade past their home near Big Hill Springs Road, west of Airdrie.
“We had an outside gathering of family and a few friends,” said Ward's daughter, Jocelyn Wittner. “There’s a lady in Airdrie that does [drive-by birthday processions], so a group came out and drove by us. We had signs put up saying, ‘Honk – Bill is 100.’”
Wittner said she isn't quite sure what to attribute her father’s longevity to.
“He eats lots of carbs, lots of pastries and drinks lots of coffee,” she said with a laugh. “He’s never smoked or drank, though, and he’s always been busy. He has good genes, I guess.”
Born in High River, Ward moved around a lot as a kid, Wittner said, before he eventually settled in Springbank.
He worked as a mechanic for the City of Calgary, and also spent time in the military during the Second World War.
“I was stationed in London, Ont. where I studied motors as a mechanic for one year,” Ward stated in an email to AirdrieTODAY. “From London, I was sent to Aldershot – a place just outside of London, England. I went as a butcher and then transferred to the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers division, working on tanks.
“I then went into the Light Aid Detachment, then transferred back to the Tank Troops Workshop, which went in about a mile behind the front line. I started out in Sicily and then went into southern Italy, France, Belgium and was finally in Holland when the war ended.”
According to Wittner, Ward almost wasn’t accepted into the military, as he did not have a valid birth certificate because he was born at home.
“He had to get a doctor to say he was born [when he was],” she said. “Back in 1920, people weren’t always born in the hospital.”
In 1946, Ward married Winnie. They had three children and were married for nearly 60 years before her passing in 2006.
With regards to Ward’s hobbies, Wittner said he has always been passionate about horses and cars.
“He’s an animal lover,” Wittner said. “People used to drop dogs in the back of his truck, because they knew he would find homes for them. There were a lot of different dogs we found homes for.”
He is also an ardent supporter of the Airdrie Pro Rodeo, Wittner said, and would supply prizes to the rodeo’s princesses for the Win Ward Memorial Award.
Now a great-great-grandfather, Ward still lives alone, Wittner said, on the same quarter section as her in RVC. She added he’s been a great dad and grandfather over the years.
“My son was in hockey, my daughter was in ringette, and my other daughter was in figure skating,” she said. “He and my mom were at every game – they were very supportive.”
With regard to passing his wisdom onto younger generations, Ward said his advice is to save money for the future, as “you never know how long you might live,” as well as not smoking or drinking.