Wednesday, February 24, 2010
John “Jack” Babcock — a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather — died Thursday, February 18,2010 at his home in Spokane Washington, at the incredible age of 109.
The federal government has plans to “properly and respectfully” mark a milestone in history — the death of Canada’s last veteran of the Great War. Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said Babcock’s passing marks “the sad turning of a page.”
“More than 650,000 brave Canadians and Newfoundlanders served our country in the First World War,” he said in a statement. “Now that their voices have fallen silent, it becomes our duty more than ever to remember them and honour their great sacrifices and their great achievements. We will never forget them.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that Babcock's death marked the end of an era.
"As a nation, we honour his service and mourn his passing," Harper said in a statement.
"His family mourns the passing of a great man. Canada mourns the passing of the generation that asserted our independence on the world stage and established our international reputation as an unwavering champion of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law."
The government offered the family a state funeral but they respectfully declined. A memorial service for Canada's last known First World War veteran is planned for next Saturday. Memorial services have been set for 2 p.m. Saturday Feb., 27 at Messiah Lutheran Church, Spokane, according to a notice in the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
Babcock had a thick shock of white hair, a hearty laugh and steady hands well after he lived more than a century. He enjoyed daily outdoor strolls and reciting funny poems to his beloved wife Dorothy (“Dot”).
He received his pilot’s licence at 65, didn’t retire until age 89 and earned his high school diploma through correspondence courses at 95.