Andrews, William Howard "Bill" –
July 4, 1925 to December 19, 2019
In his 94th year, after a brief illness and a short battle with dementia, Bill passed away peacefully on December 19, 2019 at the North Bay Regional Health Centre. Predeceased by his beloved wife Chiara “Claire” and his father, William Walter Andrews, and mother, Ella Caroline (nee Bonsteel). Dear father of son William Todd.
Bill will live on forever in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved him. He leaves behind brother, Harry Andrews and wife Lola; brother, RJ Andrews and wife Germaine; sister, Helen Dubien; brother, Reg Andrews (late wife Shirley); brother, Jack Andrews and wife Teresa; sister, Susan Rascone (partner of the late Peter Maher); cousin Tish Corbeil (late husband Noel); sister-in-law, Joan Mazzonello (late husband John); sister-in-law, Irene Girard and husband Len; brother-in-law, Louis Mazzonello and wife Gail. Predeceased by sister-in-law, Vie David and husband Marc; sister-in-law, Helen Mazzonello; and sister-in-law, Stella Aquino and husband Louis. Dear uncle to many nieces and nephews, “Uncle Bill" will be sadly missed.
Bill was born and in North Bay, Ontario, the oldest of seven children. During the depression he relocated with his family to Cochrane, Ontario. At the age of 17, with a letter of permission from his mother, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. After basic training in Lachine, Quebec he attended Number 4 Wireless School in Guelph, Ontario then Bombing and Gunnery School at Number 6 Mountain View, east of Toronto. A recruiter from the British 45 Group of the Royal Air Force Ferry Command picked Bill to join the Canadian Crew as a radio operator and gunner. They were to deliver a Consolidated B-24 Liberator to India where he would then serve with the RAF. While on a layover in Cairo, where the crew was vaccinated, he became gravely ill after receiving an injection from a contaminated needle. He spent months in the hospital and eventually had to travel on his own to reunite with his crew who were now assigned to No. 355 Squadron RAF in Salbani, India. They would fly from India over the Bay of Bengal and bomb bridges and roads that the Japanese had built in Burma. His squadron bombed the Burma Railroad bridge made famous in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai. Bill served in the RCAF for three years under the British flag which included a Tour of Operations on the Royal Air Force Bomber Command earning him the Burma Star medal. He would often say, "I considered myself to be very fortunate to have had the experience and to have survived it".
After the war, he returned to Canada where he attended the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. He moved back to Cochrane where he worked for the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests as a scaler and radio operator. It was while he was working on the radio that he helped identify the plane which had gone missing eleven years previously while carrying Toronto Maple Leaf player Bill Barilko and Henry Hudson. A call came in from a helicopter pilot inquiring if there had been any recent plane crashes in the area. Bill indicated to the pilot that the only plane that was unaccounted for was the plane carrying the two men. As it turned out, he was right.
Bill married Claire Mazzonello in 1954. In 1967, when her husband was transferred by the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, in what she jokingly referred to as her "centennial project", Claire, Bill and Todd, moved to North Bay. In the 1970’s, Bill returned to University, initially part-time at Nipissing University and then full-time at Laurentian University obtaining his Honours Degree in Geography. He then went on to be the first District Land Use Planner in Northern Ontario for the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Bill enjoyed music, arts, cooking, the outdoors and gardening, but his real passion was reading. He would read every article printed daily in the Toronto Star and would read a new book every two to three days. Bill loved all things British – cooking, humour, novels, and television. He was honoured when a family friend nicknamed him “Billy Two Sheds,” based on the Monty Python sketch. While in the hospital, he was recently presented with his 70-year Legion member bar and pin, a rare achievement of which he was very proud.
Special thanks to the caring and compassionate staff at NBRHC who cared for Bill during his most recent stay in the hospital. Special thanks to his wonderful doctors through the years – Dr. Phillipson, Dr. Rosoph, Dr. Vijay, Dr. Bowker, Dr. Shukla, Dr. Jinnah and Dr. Steinberg and to Rev. Dr. Peter Armstrong from St. Brice’s Church.
At Bill's request, there will be no visitation; cremation will take place and a private memorial service will be held. Donations to Bill’s favourite charities – Doctors Without Borders (www.doctorswithoutborders.ca), The Salvation Army (salvationarmy.ca) or Parkinson Society Canada (www.parkinson.ca) – would be most appreciated.
You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten – Per Ardua Ad Astra forever.
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