Doug de Wolff enjoyed a drive by car parade on his 102nd birthday on Wednesday, Aug. 12. Scott Stanfield photo

Vancouver Island man looks back on 102 years

It’s been a century-long journey for the Comox Valley’s Doug de Wolff

Members of a Comox Valley car club paraded past Doug de Wolff’s home to help ring in his 102nd birthday on Wednesday, Aug. 12.

The Second World War veteran lives with his daughter Alice and her partner Cori in the Craigdarroch neighbourhood in south Courtenay. Family members and friends gathered on the driveway to celebrate the eventful day.

Born in the community of Sardis in the Fraser Valley, de Wolff said he “started out as a farm kid in the Chilliwack area.” It was later while teaching school in Kaslo, B.C. when he “felt the pangs of war.”

“I had to go. I left Kaslo and joined the air force.”

“He trained across the Prairies with the rest of the Commonwealth Forces,” Alice said. “One of their big deals was training navigators. Because he had been a teacher, they turned him into a navigation trainer.”

Doug spent four years in the air force, and served 20 months overseas during the war.

“I served in Bomber Command. I was a navigator on the Lancasters. I was one of the lucky ones that came home.”

After the war, de Wolff spent time in the air force in Edmonton, where his two children were born.

He studied engineering at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, graduated in 1950 and then embarked on a career in Calgary.

“I came on the market at a time when there was tremendous demand for engineering staff. I was involved in the design of most of the bridges on the TransCanada Highway. Those were the years when finding a job was easy.”

He was the engineer on McMahon Stadium in Calgary, among other projects.

Doug said the Comox Valley is “perfect for an old man.” He has lived in the community off and on for about 10 years.

“I’ve been very fortunate. Its been an interesting life. I’m so pleased that my daughter and her partner have given me a perfect home and are looking after me. All parents should be so lucky.”

He agreed to share some words of wisdom:

“Something I discovered through my life, that if there is an open door, if an opportunity presents itself, jump in, and don’t let that opportunity go. It certainly served me well…I’m glad that I walked through that open door.”

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