ALBERT BITHELL A resident of Aurora for 54 years, Albert Bithell passed away peacefully at Southlake Regional Health Centre on Thursday, May 8, 2014, surrounded by loved ones. He was 95 years old. We say "years old" and not "years young", as he wore his "Old Guys Rule" hat as a badge of honour and would often jokingly warm his hands over his many birthday candles. His last cake set off the smoke alarm, causing fits of laughter for all. Albert will be deeply missed by his children Margaret (Don) of Newmarket and Lesley of Nassau. He will be fondly remembered by his seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and numerous extended family members. Albert was born on April 19, 1919 in Birmingham, England. He was a strong, quiet man who viewed himself as an "average Joe", but in truth his story was anything but ordinary: In his late teens he answered his country's call by volunteering for the British Army in WWII with his best friend, Chuck aka "Chucky Boy." While their war duties separated them, they managed to stay in touch by sending letters to Chuck's sister, Euphemia. She would then forward the letters to each other's current posting. Upon returning from the war, Albert would thank her in the best way possible. They married in 1945. During the war, Albert fought bravely in Egypt, Italy and Greece as an anti-aircraft spotter as part of the British Artillery. Captured during the Battle of Crete, Albert would spend the next few years as a POW in Berlin, Germany. While conditions were harsh, Albert would in his later years share stories of the lighter side of life in the camp. From "borrowing" a guard's bicycle for the afternoon when he wasn't looking, to making rice pudding from rationed raisins and rice, he was always one to make the best of things. After liberation, he was a mere 100 pounds and spent a year in hospital recovering. Since then, he was never one to say no to a piece of cake. Seeking a better life for his wife and young family, Albert was inspired to sail across the Atlantic to start a new life in Canada after seeing a postcard of Niagara Falls. Upon settling in Aurora, Albert took on a series of odd jobs before finding his calling at de Havilland Aircraft of Canada building airplanes for 29 years. This was an ironic career choice, given his wartime experience of blowing planes up. In life, Albert had a fondness for gardening, long walks, tea and the odd spot of sherry. In his later years, he would travel with family and friends to Alaska, Egypt, Greece, the UK and the Caribbean. Now he is ready for his final journey - to be reunited with his one true love, Euphemia, his wife of over 50 years. We imagine them both once again riding their tandem bike to the beach for a picnic. A memorial will be held in Albert's honour at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at Jonathan's Restaurant in Aurora. In lieu of flowers, the family would gratefully acknowledge donations to the CNIB or the Heart & Stroke Foundation. We are forever grateful to the people at Park Place Manor and the wonderful doctors and nurses at Southlake who were so very kind. To Albert, we leave a quote from his favourite song: "We'll meet again. Don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day."
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Published in the Toronto Star on May 10, 2014