William (Bill) Ernest Blake, age 85, of Peace River, Alberta and Durham, Ontario, passed away peacefully Oct 30th, 2018, at the Grey Gables retirement home in Markdale, Ontario.
Born on August 26, 1933, in Peace River, Alberta, Bill was the eldest son of the late Ernest Blake and Marjorie Millicent Blake/Furgeson (Jerry Furgeson) of Peace River, AB.
He is survived by his loving wife of 18 years, Mary Blake (nee Leith); his brother Duncan Blake; sister Linda Longmuir (Denis); brother Gordon Furgeson (Vickie); sister Ada Vanderheide (Rick); his four children; Chris Blake (Bill) of Grande Prairie, AB; Marj Blake-Callinan (Tom) of Mill Valley CA, USA; Willie Blake (Arlene) of Calgary, AB; Wes Blake of Rainbow Lake, AB; his six grandchildren, Carmen (Blair), Jody, Ryan (Sarah), Jocelyn, Connor, Montana; his six great grandchildren; Dartanian, Ethan, Darius, Olivia, Asher, Daxton; and his brother in-law Doug (Carolyn) Leith; and many loving nieces, nephews, relatives and extended family of Ontario.
Raised on a farm in the Weberville area outside Peace River, Alberta, Bill left home at the age of 15 and became a plumber and pipefitter. Inspired by his entire family’s fascination with airplanes and aviation in general, he purchased an airplane and learned how to fly. Early on he flew the Cessna Crane or the “Bamboo Bomber” as he used to refer to it. After starting his professional career bush-piloting float planes, he was sure he had made the big time piloting the legendary DC3 with Gateway Aviation. He was hired by Pacific Western Airlines (PWA) in 1965, and in 1969, he was rated on the Lockheed L382 Hercules. This time in his aviation career allowed him to see the world as the “Tramp Steamer” flew freight from the high north of the Canadian Arctic, to the Deserts of Saudi Arabia and to the depths of the South American jungle in Brazil. His career with his initial Jet aircraft rating on the brand new “Boeing 737” in 1972. The high point of his 737 flying was the introduction of Jet service into Peace River on September 15, 1975. He was the Captain on the first B737 aircraft into Peace River, AB and ultimately piloted the last B737 flight out of the Peace River airport in 1983 when Canadian Airlines discontinued jet service there. He retired early from Canadian Airlines flying the DC-10 at the age of 57 to pursue his second career as a grain farmer in Peace River. His passion for flying never left him and was shared with other family members; his step-father, his two brothers and both of his sons all became pilots and some owing private aircraft.
Bill was an avid and entertaining story teller, adventuresome traveler who literally “saw” the world, a hard working “hobby-farmer” (controlling over 2.5 sections of land at one time), owner of a trucking company (Captain Tractors), partner in a regional airline (Southern Frontier Air Transport), and a loving husband and father; he will be missed dearly.
Our family wishes to extend a special and sincere thank you to all of the staff at Grey Gables in Markdale, ON for their attentive care and support over the last few years and especially during Bill’s final days. The family also extends their sincerest gratitude to Fawcett Funeral and Cremation Reception center.
The family will be receiving all of Bill’s friends from 10am at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Priceville, ON; Saturday, Nov 3rd until the service at 11am with lunch to follow. Bill’s final resting place will be amongst his close relatives in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Peace River, Alberta Nov 7, 2018 at 1pm.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to the Day Away Program-Home and Community Support Services of Grey-Bruce would be greatly appreciated.Online donations and condolences at www.fawcettfuneralhome.ca 888-924-2810