William Henry (Bill) Balser Sr., 95, from Stoney Creek NB, passed away peacefully with family by his side at Lakeview Manor in Riverview NB, on March 31, 2019.
Raised on the family farm in Albert County, Bill volunteered for military service with the RCAF and served from July 1941 to September 1945. He was attached to the tactical mobile ground armament crews reloading fighter planes and saw action across France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany. While in Scotland recovering from injuries sustained in France, Bill met his future wife, Marion (Barrie). They were married in Glasgow in April 1945. After the war, Bill returned to Canada, Marion came to Stoney Creek as a war bride and the couple raised their family on the farm there. Bill was also employed as a supervisor for many years with the NB Department of Highways. He was a member of St. Mary’s Anglican Church and the Hillsborough NB, Legion Branch No.32.
Bill was man of quiet determination with a quick wit and dry sense of humour. In February of this year, he was awarded the rank of Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour (their highest national distinction) for his service during the World War II liberation of France. The insignia was presented at a ceremony at the Hillsborough Legion where the Consul General of France representative thanked Bill and described him as being "a living page of history". He also received a personal letter from the Ambassador of France expressing gratitude to him and all of his compatriots for their "courage and devotion to the ideals of liberty and peace". In addition to his service medals, Bill was awarded the 1945 - 2010 Thank You Canada and Allied Forces Medal by the Netherlands and in November 2018, took part in the planting of a commemorative Vimy Oak tree in the Peace Park in Hillsborough, NB.
The Museum sends our condolences to his Family, especially to two of his grandsons, James and Will, who worked at the museum as summer students.
The family is establishing the William H. Balser Sr. Memorial Scholarship in his memory to be awarded to a deserving student of the Caledonia High School graduating class of 2019.
To donate to this scholarship fund you can contact the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 32 - (506) 734-2289
or by mail: Hillsborough Legion Branch #32, c/o P.O. Box 1002, Moncton, NB E1C 8P2