Roy Blake was born on April 14, 1920 in Dodsland, Saskatchewan. His father Victor was a salesman and served in the first world war. His mother Isabel was a teacher.
They moved around a lot, ending up in Nelson, B.C. for many years and finally Vancouver where Roy finished high school.
Roy met his wife Bexie Hallam in Vancouver and they were married on Feb. 2, 1942.
A month later Roy joined the army and set off training in Vernon and onto Kingston, Ontario. He served as a signals man and was in England and Italy until 1945.
On returning home Roy and Bexie built a house in North Vancouver and Roy went to work as a postman. Son Philip (Flip) was born in 1946, followed by Rod in 1949.
In 1952 Roy got itchy feet and talked Bexie into moving to the Cariboo. They bought the Ochiltree ranch, trading the rain for -40F weather, no indoor plumbing and no electricity. In 1954 daughter, Lucy, was born in the Williams Lake hospital.
The Blakes lived on the Ochiltree Ranch until 1972. These were tough years, but the best place on earth to raise three kids. Logging was a form of income and with the help of Flip, Rod and some employed neighbours, it helped pay the bank.
Neighbours were a big help in those days and sure made life more enjoyable. Roy always loved a good debate with friends and family, he always had a quick response and quirky little sayings.
After selling the ranch in 1972, the family moved to the Valley Place, which they had kept separate from the ranch. Roy sold mobile homes in Williams Lake until the business sold. Then Fred Westwick suggested he sell government crop insurance to ranchers. This took Roy all over the Interior of B.C. and to some remote areas. He met some great people and saw some beautiful country.
In 1987, a couple of years into retirement, Roy and Bexie purchased a cabin on Quesnel Lake. This became their second home, they loved sharing the place with family and friends, boating, fishing, hanging out at the cabin and enjoying happy hour. Roy researched pelton wheels and came up with a hydro system at the lake.
At the age of 70 Roy started downhill and cross country skiing. He also went to aerobic classes, and helped Flip with the kick boxing club at the Miocene Hall.
Roy did not like to be idle. While building his house at the Valley Place he had a heart attack and had to undergo open heart surgery in Vancouver. He came home and remained active and enjoyed life. Around 10 years later he went through bypass surgery and recovered well. The third time he went in for surgery the doctors refused to operate as he probably would not survive – they basically told him to go home and wait to die.
Roy came home but did not sit around and wait to die. He kept going to the lake, walked miles with Bexie on the property and the boys set up an exercise machine for him. The veterans association provided him with a scooter and he also had a four-wheeler. Into his 90s he would head down to Flip and Rod’s mill site on his scooter or quad to oversee the boys at work.
We are a very close family, living a stone’s throw from each other, and quite often had gatherings at Roy and Bexie’s – it was the place to be.
Roy lived for 13 years after being told to go home and wait to die. He joined the Deni House activity program as his mobility was failing.
They provided him with friendship, compassion, music and encouragement. They valued his memories and knowledge – and oh yes, his sense of humour.
The musical volunteers who came to entertain at Deni House were “tickety-boo” to Roy.
He was able to stay at home until February of this year, with the help of home care workers who came once or twice a week to help Bexie with his care.
In February he made the transition to full care at Deni House. He had a hard time adjusting to being away from home, but couldn’t say enough good things about the Deni House crew – he loved them all – receptionist, care aides, nurses, doctors, entertainers, kitchen and maintenance staff, and other residents who were all concerned about Roy.
Just as we thought Roy was adjusting to living in his new “digs” as he liked to say, he caught a chest cold and was unable to recover and regain his strength, and ability to walk – something he needed to have any quality of life. On Oct. 26, he passed away with his family by his side.
Gone but not forgotten – dancer, rancher, fisherman and great friend, husband, dad, grandpa and great-grandpa. And a library of knowledge!
Roy was predeceased by his parents, older brother Byron and nephew Byron Harry.
He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Bexie; sons Flip (Anne) and Rod (Shoko), daughter Lucy Martel (Ken); grandchildren Tera Grady (Ryan), June and partner Ben, Fawn Gunderson (Patrick), Roan and partner Rebecca, Ty Martel (Tanya), Dusty Rhodes and partner Amanda; great grandchildren Olen, Izzy, Micah, Jayda, Ryan, Kai, Ashton, Josh, Daniel, Morgan and Jacob.