How do you sum up one hundred years?
For Jack Webb on the cusp of his 100th birthday, family and fishing are the most treasured of his memories.
At age 19, he joined the Air Force as an airplane mechanic in Chilliwack before being transferred to Manitoba. He served through the Second World War from 1942 to 1945.
“I had always been interested. I made model airplanes when I was young,” he said.
While in Manitoba, he met his future wife Gladys. She worked at Eaton’s and also went on to serve in the army. They married in 1949 and spent 61 years together.
When asked what advice Webb had for such a long-standing union, his answer was, “Love, I guess.”
“I liked everything about her,” he said. “She was a huge part of my life.”
Together, they had two children – Wendy and David.
When looking back at her parent’s marriage, Wendy said they never argued or held grudges.
“My mom was easy to get along with,” she said. “She was entertaining too, knew how to tell a joke.”
While Webb was in the service, the family moved around from Rivers, Man. to Saskatoon, Sask. to Chiliwack, B.C. He retired in 1982 with 28 years of service, and some odd jobs in between.
They settled back near his original home in Chilliwack to escape the cold prairie winters. Then in 2010, Wendy convinced her parents to relocate to the small town of Creston. They loved the mild weather and fresh fruit from the local orchards.
After retirement, Webb enjoyed rock hounding and fishing in the great outdoors. For over 20 years, he went fishing biannually for two to three weeks at a time, often in Williams Lake or Cariboo.
“It’s another world,” he said. “I just loved getting out there and camping.”
His older brother George taught him how to fly fish, and they even made their own lures.
He is proud to say he once caught a record-breaking rainbow trout in Manitoba – weighing in close to 10 pounds. Record breaker or not, he laughed and said he still ate it for dinner.
For the last eight years. Webb continues to live semi-independently in Nikkyl Place, an assisted living facility. He also enjoyed driving longer than most with the help of Creston’s quiet small town streets, only giving up his license at age 96.
His hardest years followed Gladys’ diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease. She died in 2015 at the age of 89.
Other than a heart attack two years ago that he has since recovered from, Webb himself has been in good health.
For the secret to long life, he didn’t have any specific remedies to share like regimented exercise or clean eating. In fact, he has been tall and lanky all of his life, while still enjoying a good meal from time to time.
He attributes his longevity to good genes, with several family members living over the age of 100.
“I’m just lucky,” he said.
His daughter said she has treasured their many years of memories together.
“I feel very privileged to have him in our lives,” she Wendy. “He has always been quiet spoken, gentle… a wise person.”
To start a tradition in their family, Wendy got married to her husband on the same day as her parents’ anniversary – Aug. 13. Her son and daughter-in-law also chose the same date for their wedding.
“For my parents’ 50th anniversary, we all went to Manning Park that summer,” said Wendy. “Now next year will be my 50th anniversary with my husband. It’s made me think back on that trip a lot. So that’s very exciting for all three generations to share.”
Now that he’s the patriarch to six grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, Webb is happy to celebrate a century of life on April 30 surrounded by his family. He is most looking forward to a steak dinner followed by Chinese food the next day – his favourites.