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William Emery Seymour Gamblin&nbsp(Bill)

William ‘Bill’ Emery Seymour Gamblin
Major (RCHA, Ret’d), CD, MEng, P.Eng, AFCASI, AFRAeS

His life was gentle; and the elements so
mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
and say to all the world: ‘This was a man’
~ Julius Caesar, Act V scene V

At Ottawa on February 10, 2024, in his 101st year. Beloved husband of Vivian Betts ‘Teddy’ Gamblin for 79 years. Much loved father of Evan Roger (Karen Joharia, née Hannusch), and Dahlan Geoffrey. Loving grandfather of Morna and Sean (Dr. Dominique née Yelle); Harlan, Sebastian and Halima (Dr. Mike Rogers); Proud great-grandfather of Raphaël and Sophie Gamblin; Harlow-Jean and Reylan-Jeffrey Gamblin (mother Stephanie (née Jameus)); Hana, Sebastian and Reece Rogers.

Also mourning his passing are many cousins and friends.

Bill was born in Saint John, NB, the son of Walter and Greta (née Emery) Gamblin, and brother of Herbert and Evelyn (née Longtin) Gamblin, all of whom predeceased him.

He was educated at Saint John High School, the University of New Brunswick (BSc), and the University of Ottawa (MEng). His military education included The Artillery School, Fort Bliss, TX, and two postings to the Royal Military College of Science (RMCS, UK).

He was an Associate Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute, Associate Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a member of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario and of the Canadian Operational Research Society.

Apart from his postings to artillery regiments, Bill worked at the Experimental Station Suffield, AB, the Canadian Armament Research & Development Establishment (CARDE, Valcartier), with the Defence Research Board and National Defence HQ in Ottawa, and Canadian Defence Liaison Staff, London, UK. On retirement from the army, he worked for Transport Canada and with Industry Canada. In 1984 he retired from the consulting engineering firm of Hovey and Associates as VP Corporate Development and Chief Engineer.

He was a member of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Royal Kennebeccasis Yacht Club, and a former member of the Britannia Y.C., Royal Harwich Y.C., Thames Sailing Club and Royal Marsh Harbour Y.C.

As a boy, Bill took to sailing and boat-building. This became a lifelong passion, in which his many skills: wood- / metal-working, boat design and sail-making, to name a few, all came into focus.

At the age of 13 he built his first sailboat (a fast club racer) with an older school chum, and from then on rarely passed up an opportunity to go sailing: dinghy racing, exploring the Saint John River, and later sailing at the Britannia Yacht Club in a successful racer / cruiser he had designed and built.

He and his family enjoyed two postings to England; in 1951 to the Royal Military College of Science, located in a small Berkshire village in the ‘Vale of the White Horse’, where, in time off from his Technical Staff Officers’ course, he took the family exploring historically rich West Country sites like Stonehenge, Avebury, and other neolithic or later places of interest. He and Teddy also took up gliding here. In spite of the rationing still in effect, they enjoyed this UK visit.

His 1962 posting to London he called “the best job in the Canadian army”, and this opened up a broad new expanse of seascape. His agreeable nature, fine seamanship and steady hand in a crisis earned him a regular berth on an ocean racer sailing out of East Anglia. He spent weekends on the North Sea and English Channel, racing or cruising to Belgium, France and Holland. Long distance races to Spain, the Brittany Coast and the Fastnet were highlights.

His job included liaison with European suppliers to the Canadian army, involving business meetings and socializing with corporate staff on the continent and entertaining visitors in London. Here Bill and Teddy hosted some fine dinner parties in their small ‘mews’ house. Among the notable events they enjoyed during this period was their presentation at court to HM Queen Elizabeth II.

Another posting to RMCS followed, and they left the glitter of their London life without regret. During his 25 years in the army they moved house 27 times; accepting, adapting, and making the best of each situation fortune sent their way. Bill continued to take off sailing whenever possible, until posted to CFB Shilo, MB, in 1965.

Later came races off the North American east coast: Newport – Bermuda and Halifax; a new boat on the St Lawrence, and finally 10 marvelous years of retirement afloat. ‘Skipper Bill’ & ‘First Rate Mate Teddy’ became water gypsies – living aboard in Florida and the Bahamas.

In their 70’s they finally ‘swallowed the anchor’, and came ashore, fulfilling their longings for the sea with occasional cruises to the Mediterranean, South America, Alaska, and around the world.

Despite suffering a debilitating stroke over 35 years ago, Bill maintained an uncomplaining attitude, enjoying life to the full. His ready humour and boyish sense of fun lasted his lifetime – he and Teddy laughed a lot. Among his writings was his autobiography, Who So?

They both had a talent for making friends, and numerous younger ones regarded them as “adopted grandparents”. In the past few years, many of their support workers joined this latter group and enjoyed coming to help them.

An honourable man; an officer and a gentleman in the finest sense.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home

~ Wm. Wordsworth

Many thanks to Dr. Ribchinsky and the dedicated staff at the Ottawa General transitional care unit.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation will welcome donations in lieu of flowers. No visitation. Memorial service to be announced at a later date.

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