Herbert Louis Betts (Bert) died on July 23, 2003 at age of 81 at Eden Intermediate Care Home after a long illness. Bert was born Sept. 10, 1921 “within the sound of Bow Bells” in London, England (making him officially a Cockney). He was one of four boys and when his mother died in 1936, he became “Mum” to them until his Dad remarried which early on demonstrated his caring nature.
As a young man he worked as a shop assistant during which time a lovely young lady “with nice legs and high heels” caught his eye. While a shop assistant, Bert enlisted in the Territorial Army for four years and in 1939 he was called into full-time service in the British Army as war was approaching. He finally proposed to the “young lady” on the top of a double-decker bus in 1940 and Elsie May Wells became his bride on Aug. 30, 1941.
Bert’s war-time service took him to Madagascar, India and Burma for which he received the Burma Star. He had been trained to be a signalman during that time and this was the beginning of a love for the technology of communication.
After returning home from the war, Bert began an apprenticeship as a machinist but had gotten to love the outdoors and became, instead, a Constable in the Port of London Authority Police. His family always thinks of this time as demonstrating strong inward courage when you consider Bert’s size and the fact that the dock police only carried a night stick and a whistle.
Three daughters were born to Bert and Elsie—Janet in 1946, Carol in 1950, and Christine in 1952.
Bert joined the London Metropolitan Police Force in 1949 and remained a London “Bobbie” until 1956. His family remembers watching the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 and see their Dad on TV standing guard at the gates of Buckingham Palace.
In 1956 Bert showed a hidden adventurous spirit and enlisted in the Canadian Air force bringing his family to Canada. He had enlisted as a Military Policeman but always his love for communication was right there. He first become involved in amateur radio while stationed in Goose Bay, Labrador and received his first amateur license there.
The opportunity to fulfill a dream came for Bert as the RCAF offered an opportunity for a change of jobs for anyone interested in retraining as a communications technician. Bert jumped at the chance. Bert’s eldest daughter remembers with admiration, long evenings of study as both she and her Dad studied difficult math while she was in high school and he in training. The family was restationed back to Winnipeg when his training was complete. Bert belonged to the Amateur Radio League of Manitoba and volunteered his time to help in emergencies and also helped people communicate with loved ones and friends around the world. Bert and Elsie moved to BC in November 1971 after Bert retired from the RCAF. They lived for a time with his brother Reg and during that time, Bert became a member of the Ryder Lake Volunteer Fire Department and a member of New Horizons Amateur Radio Club, subsequently becoming president.
Bert came out of retirement the following year and worked at Canadian Forces Base, Vedder Crossing, as custodial staff, eventually becoming Superintendent. He was well-liked by his staff who appreciated his listening ear and his support.. After 10 years, Bert retired again but continued to serve others volunteering at Senior’s Resources, for the Red Cross repairing wheelchairs, at the BC Summer Games and continued his involvement in the Amateur Radio Club. He made numerous trips to be with family, who were very important to him, for weddings, graduations, holidays, or just to enjoy their company. Bert will be remembered for his love of family, his quiet wit and his sense of humour. The family would like to thank Dr. Cameron Ross for his kindness and care over the years, as well as the staff of Eden Intermediate Care Home. Bert is survived by his wife Elsie, his brother Norm (Joan) of Lincolnshire, England; and sister-in-law, Pat; daughters: Janet (Jim), Carol (Eugene) and Christine; grandchildren: Cindy (Curtis), Scott (Jennifer), Brendan and Kaycee; and great-grandchildren RJ, Brett, Marlee, Christopher and Thomas. Cremation arrangements are in care of Henderson’s Funeral Home and Crematorium. A memorial service to celebrate Bert’s life will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, July 28, 2003 at Henderson’s with a reception to follow. Should friends so desire, donations in Bert’s memory may be made to the Salvation Army.