Obituary of Willard Hinkley
Captain Willard M B Hinkley, passed away April 15 at the age of 74.
Grab a drink and enjoy this story of an amazing man’s life. There’s an old adage that you can pick your friends but not your family. This was not true for Willard, for he chose his family and this is their story of him.
The beginning of his life was as a butter box survivor, born in East Chester, NS. He was adopted by his parents David and Jennie Hinkley of Pleasant Bay, NS and raised by his loving grandparents, Ethyl and George Timmins .
He left Cape Breton at a young age to join the Canadian Armed Forces where he completed a full military career. He served many tours around the world and made countless friends along the way, including his best friend Bill (Cathy) Blair, of London, ON. Throughout his life, Willard always did what come naturally to him, he gave love, made friends, and sought peace.
In his early 20s, he made a decision that would foreverchange his life and many others. He became a Big Brother volunteer. This is where he met the first of his “littles”, starting with Steve (Heather) Clements and David (Kerry) Hughson, both of Fredericton, NB, and both of whom were forever his brothers and remained an important part of his life. He was also blessed to later have the friendship, love, and support from his good friend, Fraser (Dawn) Morrison, of Halifax, another member of Willard’s chosen family.
He would return home to Cape Breton to visit his friends and family whenever he could. He cherished his sister, Shirley Poirier, of Cheticamp, whom he often referred as his best friend in childhood. He also had a brother, Gregory Hinkley, of Moncton.
In the early 80s, he met a boy who he would later call his son, Paul Sakins, of Bonnyville, AB. Ten years later, Paul provided him with what he would tell everyone were his greatest loves; daughter-in-law, Rhonda King, and granddaughter, Bailee King-Sakins, both of Dartmouth.
So who was Willard? He was a man who identified with the native culture and lived his life in testament to their beliefs. He was a peaceful, loving, honest, giving, selfless man who would do anything for those he loved. Just ask his closest friends from his home at Camelot Lane for over 20 years. Thelma Leblanc, Marg Stone, and Frank McGill, to name a few, along with those who would often join him on a walk or a stop for coffee. He had a life-long passion for reading, native and Inuit art, and photography, having captured the beauty that he witnessed around him, whether it was in a war-ravaged country while on a UN peacekeeping mission, spending time with those he loved, or finding inner peace with nature.
After retiring from the military, he worked part time for Scotsburn Dairy and volunteered at Citidel Hill restoring military artifacts, but he truly dedicated his life and time to his granddaughter, Bailee. He loved her as only an immensely proud grandfather can, and would often share stories, memories, and photos of the love of his life with those around him.
In the last two years of his life, he found one more group of people who he chose as his family. They were the staff at Evans Hall, Shannex Parkstone, who started out as caregivers, but quickly became greatly appreciated and loved members of Willard’s selected family. We were told at Christmas by a family member of another resident that they all referred to Willard as “the Mayor”of Evans Hall.
In true Willard fashion,he did one last selfless act, he donated his brain to the Brain Bank in hopes of helping researchers find a cure for Alzheimer’s. He died as he lived, in peace and surrounded by the love of those that chose to be a member of his family.
A toast to celebrate his life will be held at the Sackville Legion upstairs in the Sun room, Wednesday, April 18th between 6-8 pm. His ashes will be laid to rest this weekend in a private family ceremony in Cape Breton.
In lieu of flowers Willard would ask for one thing; that you be good and stay out of trouble.
His love and spirit will carry on through the people he called his family. We will love and miss you, Rhonda, Bailee, Steve, Fraser, David, and Paul.