DUKE PROCTER (1899-2005), WW1 VET, RIP

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Today, on Remembrance Day, as I have every year since he died, I will spare a few special moments to mourn my hero, William (Duke) Procter. I got to know Duke as part of a Globe and Mail series on remaining veterans from the terrible carnage of World War One. There weren’t many by that time, but one was Duke. He was 102, still living by himself in Vernon, still tending his large garden, still bowling, still square dancing, still….well, you get the picture. To celebrate his 100th birthday, he jumped out of an airplane (with parachute). The landing was a bit of a jar, but within moments, he was up on his feet, grinning.  He was as full of life as a 10-year old. I’ve never met anyone that I enjoyed talking to more than Duke. But every time we talked, and the conversation turned to the the war, he wept.

Duke and his brother managed to avoid being shipped to France because of their backwoods background, transferred to the north of England to cut down trees to shore up the trenches, while his mates went “over there”. Many died, and Duke  mourned them until his last breath, still feeling guilty that he survived and they didn’t. He vowed to never forget them, and every Remembrance Day, Duke Procter marched. I was there for Duke’s last march, when he was 104. Below are links to my Globe story on that wonderful day, followed by what I wrote when Duke finally passed on. It’s 100 years since “the war to end all wars” began, and Duke was part of it. Here’s to you, pal.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/great-war-veteran-104-is-still-in-step/article18436414/#dashboard/follows/

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/incoming/william-duke-procter-soldier-and-logger-1899-2005/article18255618/#dashboard/follows/

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4 thoughts on “DUKE PROCTER (1899-2005), WW1 VET, RIP

  1. I tried posting this already but had to get my password reset from wordpress. I hope it goes through this time and does not come through twice.

    I am the granddaughter of Duke Procter. I discovered your beautiful memorial to him while posting to Facebook for remembrance day today. I just want to correct an error that has persisted since he was interviewed following his skydive at the age of 100. 🙂

    Grampa did not break his leg during or following the skydive. I happened to be at his home when he received a telephone interview from a major Canadian newspaper about the skydive. During the interview, he was asked if he broke his leg, to which I heard him reply a stuttered yes. What he never got a chance to clarify what that he did not break his leg during the skydive. When he said yes to breaking his leg, he was talking about when he fell off his roof while cleaning the gutters when he was somewhere between 92 and 95 years of age. He broke his leg from the fall. After healing, he continued to go on the roof to clean his gutters but would tie a rope around his waist just in case he lost his footing again.

    I’m including a hidden link on my website that shows pictures of him standing with the skydive troupe following the successful landing. It was a jarring landing but you can see that he is standing straight and proud, just without his dentures because he had to take them out. 🙂

    http://www.cindyprocter-king.com/williamdukeprocter.html

    Thank you for such a wonderful memorial.

    Cindy Procter-King

  2. Thank you so much, Cindy….i have corrected the mistake to take out the reference to Duke’s broken leg……Somewhere, Duke has marched again today, on Remembrance Day, remembering all his fallen comrades.

  3. I am Duke’s great-granddaughter (Cindy Procter-King is my aunt).. I too saw this post on Facebook. At times in highschool while digging up research for social studies, or at times of interest when I did ask him about the war, he cried.
    He was one of my favourite people to talk too. He had so many great stories. We miss him dearly in our family and we talk about him often. My youngest son’s middle name, is William. He is quite proud to have that namesake.

    Thanks for the nice write up!

    Chelsea Heal

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