William Lloyd Marr, known to his many friends as Bill, marked his 95th birthday on Thursday with a group of 70 friends and family members at Adrian’s at the Airport in Langley.
It was a fitting location, as he is a Langley pioneer with a deep and abiding knowledge of Langley. He also spent more than 40 years as a pilot.
His father, Dr. Benjamin Marr, was Langley’s first resident doctor, who settled in Fort Langley. His mother was born in Fort Langley, and her parents and grandparents settled there. Four generations lie in the Fort Langley churchyard.
Bill Marr was born in England on July 4, 1917, but his official birth date is July 5, as his father insisted that he didn’t want his son born on the 4th of July, U.S. Independence Day.
His father was in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War at the time.
The Marrs returned to Fort Langley after the war, and Bill grew up and attended school there. He attended Langley High School and the University of B.C., but cut his education short in 1939 when Adolf Hitler invaded Poland.
He enlisted on Sept. 3, 1939, a week before Canada officially was at war. In 1940, he switched over to the Royal Canadian Air Force, doing some training at Boundary Bay and Saskatoon. He received his wings and became an instructor for other potential pilots, in Moncton and Trenton, Ontario.
He met his wife Etta in Moncton and they have been married for 71 years. They have a son and a daughter, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
He was posted overseas in 1942 and spent most of his time on Mosquito aircraft for Fighter Command.
He was discharged in 1945 and returned to Canada to join Trans-Canada Airlines. He was a pilot for the airline, which became Air Canada, until retiring at 60 in 1977. For much of that time, he lived in Toronto and flew trans-Atlantic flights to Europe, in jet aircraft after 1962. He accumulated a total of 28,500 flying hours. He also flew out of Vancouver to London on the polar route.
He and his wife returned to Langley when he retired, and he continued flying a Cessna 185 until giving up his pilot’s licence in 1983. He has been active in Langley Heritage Society, Langley Rotary Club, the VALTAC transportation group and served as president of the Abbotsford Airshow.