Our Centenarian Gander of the Year

Posted by tmaloney on July 09, 2020

The early part of May one of our YOUNGER GENERATION Blue Goose members was highlighted in the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper.  The article referenced that Mr. Ralph Wild was quite “Blue” in these pandemic times.  The Honorable Order of Blue Goose felt that they could aid in the cheering up of Mr. Wild and thus a request was made to the entire membership to send an email or a card to Mr. Wild.  Our goal was to show no matter how young or old, what corner of the world you reside in, we are there for each other.  It also was a reminder to all our members that too often we forget our members who might not make our monthly meetings.  But these veteran Ganders built our Ponds and may have helped keep those Ponds alive and well for us.

Born in Yorkshire, England, Ralph Wild joined the Royal Air Force as an instrument repair technician a few months before the Second World War began.  The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign of the Second World War to be fought entirely by air forces, and the largest, most sustained aerial bombing campaign to that date.

This veteran did not stay on the ground forever. He volunteered for overseas service and came to Canada on December 4th, 1940 to work as part of the Commonwealth Air Training plan. He was here for three and a half years and oversaw instrument repair for the training aircraft. During that time, his air crew posting came, and he became a navigator and an officer. He returned to Britain and did a tour with bomber command until the end of the war.

While on leave in Winnipeg, Canada he met his future wife.  They were married June 1943 and soon they had a son, who followed him back to England, traveling the dangerous North Atlantic in a convoy.  After the war, while he finished his university in Britain before returning to Winnipeg, Wild gave lectures at museums and schools about his experiences in the war.  Then in 1948, Mr. Wild and his family returned to Winnipeg, where they lived ever since.

Ralph started in the insurance business with the Northern Employers Insurance as an accountant and latterly setting up their claims department. This Insurer was formed because of a merger with Northern Assurance and Employers Liability Assurance. This Insurer was acquired by the Commercial Union Insurance (UK Based) which at the time was one of the three largest Insurers in Canada. Commercial Union closed the Winnipeg branch in 1977 and converted it to a service office and Ralph was given a buyout package.  But Ralph became bored, so he began doing some legal work for a law firm, but found that this was not to his liking, so he joined Marine Office Appleton and Cox / Marine Office of America Corporation (MOAC) in the claims department.  Ralph finally retired in 1982.

He is believed to be the last living Royal Canadian Air Force survivor of the Battle of Britain.  But Wild explained there is no real secret to a long life.

Mr. Wild, our CENTENARIAN Gander, said genes have a lot to do with how old you live, and he was lucky to inherit the long lifespan of his mother’s side of the family.

“Never do anything to anybody that you wouldn’t have done to you.”

Mrs. Wild died on August 1, 2000, leaving three children and several grandchildren.

Ralph Wild is presumably our oldest Gander at 101!  Ralph has been a member of the Manitoba Pond for 61 years, joining in 1958, and is a PMLG.

A side note or two, is that Ralph still drove his vehicle until he himself decided to give up his drivers’ license when he was 98 years of age. Ralph continues to speak to children at schools about his time serving in the war. He has a great memory and speaks without the aid of any notes.

The Grand Nest Officers have decided to bestow on Mr. Wild the honor of being our 2019-2020 Gander of the Year! 

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