Ronald Battersby stands outside of the Oak Bay home he purchased with his late wife in 1967. Battersby turns 100 on June 8. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

‘Make the best of whatever comes your way’: Oak Bay man celebrates 100th birthday

Century-old resident purchased Oak Bay home in 1967

Ronald Battersby sits on his green velvet couch, the dappled afternoon sun illuminating the age spots on his cheeks. The 100-year-old sifts through a leather-bound book full of black and white photographs, mostly dated between 1934 and 1937: a sepia snapshot of a young boy sitting on a rocky bluff, a row of smiling teenagers in army work wear, countless airplanes.

An image of a boy, his head lifted from a pillow, smiling a bit dazedly at the camera, is dated 1936, and says ‘R.B. at Halton’ beneath it in silver pen.

“I suppose that’s me,” Battersby says.

It’s difficult to look back on a century of life, both because there’s a lot of ground to cover, and because age starts to wear on what memories you have left.

READ ALSO: ‘It just happened’: B.C. woman celebrates her 100th birthday

Born June 8, 1919 in Penrith, Cumberland, a market town in the northwest of England, Battersby spent the early years of his life “in the midst of hills, mountains and lakes.”

In a short biography he wrote a number of years ago, Battersby said “it was a great place to grow up.” But at only 15 years old he took an RAF exam for a three-year apprenticeship at a technical training school in Halton, about 65 kilometres from London.

So began his time in the British Army. Between 1937 and 1942, he served with four squadrons on eight stations and serviced eight different air crafts, “beginning with ‘Gladiators’ and ending with ‘Stirlings.’”

Ronald Battersby, about to turn 100, stands with son Kevin Battersby outside his Oak Bay home. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Battersby was drafted to overseas duty and described the morning the ship he sailed on was escorted to a new station, where he and 200 other men would put together “Hurricanes and Spitfires for the defence of Malta and the North African campaign.”

He said the station was attacked, resulting in the death of one man from his RAF group. Battersby himself carried out the “burial at sea” by pushing the man’s body overboard.

His military career continued and included a brief training stint in Winnipeg – a stint which would later become the motivation for his move to Canada after the Second World War.

In Winnipeg, Battersby worked for the United Grain Growers, until he met Anne Cromarty, and 11 years after they married in 1954, the couple moved, by rail, to the West Coast, and eventually bought their Oak Bay home in 1967.

Battersby worked for Canada Post while the couple raised two sons, Keith and Kevin.

Cromarty died at 91 in 2016, after 65 years of marriage. Battersby still lives in their Oak Bay home, surrounded by photo albums, books and 1960s-era furniture.

When asked how he feels about turning 100, Battersby said, “I feel much the same as I did yesterday and last year.”

He still goes for regular walks, sometimes all the way down to the water. And he meets regularly with a local stamp collectors club.

His advice for aging is simple: “When it comes down to it, you just realize this is the way it is, and you either like it or lump it,” he said.

“Make the best of whatever comes your way.”



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Concrete beams for McKenzie interchange set for installation this weekend

No lane closures expected during weekend work, says ministry

Motorcylist ticketed for excessive speed, bike impounded by Saanich Police

The 22-year-old was issued two tickets – one for a bent licence plate

Government Street to be transformed into ‘people-priority’ zone

Victoria city council voted to limit traffic in the area by 2022

Impaired driver caught travelling double the speed in playground zone: Saanich police

Vehicle impounded and driver issued ticket, 90-day suspension

Riders roll to help Island hospices

$240,000 raised so far for this weekend’s seventh annual Cycle of Life Tour

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

Injured fawn at B.C. vet will be euthanized Friday night unless claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer is currently being treated at West Kelowna’s Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Port Hardy RCMP cleared in arrest that left man with broken ribs, punctured lung: IIO

The IIO noted the matter will not be referred to crown counsel for consideration of charges.

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Most Read