Lest We Forget – Alfred Roy Haines

Roy Haines (File Photo (2007) - Joe McLean)

by Joe McLean

Roy Haines (File Photo (2007) - Joe McLean)
Roy Haines (File Photo (2007) – Joe McLean)

As Remembrance Day arrives I remember and miss my friend Alfred Roy Haines.

I met Roy when I was invited to join a Friday evening poker group that played during the winter. He was a soft-spoken man and a stickler for the English language. His pet peeve was the phrase “at this point in time”. As he often said, “Either at this point or at this time would be correct”.

When he wanted a beer, he would say “Does anybody else find it dry in here?” The person hosting the game would get the message quickly.

As he got older, Roy was diagnosed with macular degeneration and lost his licence to operate his car. This was one period in his life that bothered him the most as Roy was a very independent soul and hated to impose on people. However, for those driving Roy to a game of golf, to a medical appointment or to a poker game, the extra time we came to spend with him was a bonus.

I learned a lot about this gentleman through time even though it took a lot of questioning as he didn’t like to talk about himself. He would always try and turn the conversation around.

Roy was recognized as a well-known athlete in his younger years in British Columbia and went on to become a teacher.

He also served in the Air Force in the Second World War as an observer/navigator and officer pilot.

Roy was declared ‘missing in action’ after a bombing mission to Frankfurt where he was shot down over Couvron-et-Aumencourt in occupied France on December 3 (1:28 a.m.), 1942.  As he told me, he was found by the resistance and guided through the Pyrenees mountain range into Spain. From there he made his way back to England where he received the Distinguished Flying Cross at Buckingham Palace. More importantly, while recovering from his ordeal in hospital, he met the love of his life, Doris Murphy, a Canadian nurse.

Roy would never talk about the war years and he was reluctant to attend Remembrance Day celebrations – for his own reasons.

After the war, Doris and Roy settled in British Columbia where Roy returned to the University of British Columbia (UBC) for graduate work. He also coached the UBC Thunderbirds rugby team in 1947 to McKechnie and World Cup wins. Rejoining the RCAF in the early 50’s, Roy was stationed in Ontario with a final posting in Ottawa.

While serving in Ottawa, it would be an understatement to say that through his daughters Roy became involved in figure skating. He served as President of the Minto Skating Club; became an International Skating Union Judge and volunteered considerable time with CFSA, now Skate Canada. As an International Skating Union Judge, Roy represented Canada throughout the world at many competitions.

Roy laughed when he told me one time about a newspaper article headlined to the effect that “Russian Judge Hurts Canadian Skater with Low Marks” and the picture showed Canadian Judge Roy Haines.

But it was the game of golf that Roy loved. He became quite proficient at the game and would go on to win many local tournaments.  In 1969, Roy was the winner of the Senior Division of the Ottawa City & District Championship. In 1967, 1972 & 1973 Roy had his name engraved on the W.G. Bedard Trophy for his Ottawa District Golf Association Senior Championship wins. He also placed well in various age groupings at RCGA Senior Championships. He was a founding and honorary life-member of the Hylands Golf Club (formally known as the Uplands GC) and later in his life played a few times a week with his regular group.

Roy was Chairman of the 1980 Royal Ottawa Hospital Golf Day that brought in professional golfer Lee Trevino, Governor-General Edward Schreyer, and a gallery of 3,000. The day netted over $35,000 for the hospital’s Foundation, exceeding targets.

Roy also volunteered his time at Hylands and also with the Ottawa Valley Golf Association.

As a testament to his longevity, Roy was still shooting his age in his 99th year at Hylands. In 2010, Roy suffered a stroke and in his 102nd year passed away after a short bout with pneumonia.

During our conversations, Roy would often talk about his family and how well they were doing in life. His life took a little setback in 2008 when his wife passed away too soon.

In closing, I am reminded by my wife about Roy’s phone calls. Paula would pick up the phone and the voice on the other end would ask “Is the coast clear?” Her answer- “Roy, I can’t see either ocean from here.”

I miss our talks and occasional games of golf but I can say that I learned a lot about life from my time with Roy Haines.

On November 11 take a few minutes to remember those who fought and lost their lives so we could have the freedom we have today, or better still, on a daily basis thank those veterans and those still serving with a simple Thank You.

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