Wilhemus "William" Ambrosius Antonius Aarts passed away peacefully at Czorny Alzheimer Centre in Cloverdale, BC on July 28, 2012. William was fifth child of Johannes and Petronella Aarts and was born in 1922 in St. Odenrode, N. Brabant, The Netherlands. William grew up with two brothers and three sisters on the family farm. A hard worker at home, he also belonged to many social clubs, and was an accomplished horseman and soccer player. After finishing high school William attended two years of Agricultural College. During WWII, William had a number of close escapes from the occupying German Army and narrowly avoided being transported to Germany to work in the munitions factories. During those dangerous years William became acquainted with the Van Esch family who were well known for their nine attractive daughters. William bicycled over every Sunday and soon made his choice. He picked the one best one, he always said, and knew that Theodora, was the right one for him. After their wedding in 1947, William and Dora were among the first post-war Dutch immigrants to Canada. They arrived in Ontario with little money and no English. By 1948 William and Dora found themselves working on the Quadling farm in Pumptown near the Vedder Canal.
After a few years as a hired hand, William set out to buy his own farm. For the next ten years he rented farms and worked a second job as a logger to pay the bills and to buy cows. He bought his first purebred Holstein in 1952 and proceeded to build up his herd. It wasn't all cows in those days; by 1956 William and Dora were renting a farm in Harrison Mills and bringing up their six children, five girls, Elly, Mary-anne, Dorine, Joanne, Susan and one son, John.
Finally, in 1959 William was able to buy his own farm in Sardis - where more hard work waited for him. There was no barn and only a small duplex for the family on the eighty acres, so no time could be wasted in constructing a barn for his herd. Typically, William made sure that the cows living conditions came first and so the barn was built well before any renovations took place on the duplex. Those were years of hard work, but also years of pleasure and joy. William's daughters loved working in the barn and the fields with their Dad, and when he was old enough, John joined in. After twenty years of careful selection, William's herd, Elmido Holsteins, became known for its high standard of breeding. Many awards and honours were won by cattle William bred, and in 1983 he went to Ottawa to receive the highest award in Canada for his work, Master Breeder.
William retired from active farming in 1993, but he continued to "volunteer" his time across the road helping John who had taken over the farm. A respected judge for the BC Holstein Association, William travelled all over BC judging dairy cattle. William and Dora had 16 grandchildren who were always welcome to join Opa's daily visits to feed the calves. And, now that they weren't so busy, William and Dora had time to travel; usually visiting children and grandchildren who were living in some exotic locale, Japan, Peru or Mexico. In 1997 William and Dora celebrated 50 years of marriage. With Dora's unexpected passing in 2007, William's life changed completely. He had developed Alzheimer's disease and could not live alone so his daughters took over William's care.
William is survived by his sister, Nolly Toenders in Harrison Mills. His children, Elly (Fred) Perrin, Mary-anne (Barry) Wilcox, Dorine (Carlos) Garibay, Joanne (David) Chalack, John (Deb) Aarts, Susan (Mick) LeClair. He is also survived by sixteen grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. And, most importantly, he is survived by his character; William was honest in his dealings, loyal to his family and friends, a source of knowledge and experience for many in his farming community. William's life, for us that will miss him most, stands as a shining example of a fine man. "Nothing gold can stay"
Prayers will be held on Thursday, August 2 at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 8909 Mary St., Chilliwack followed by a Funeral Mass on Friday, August 3 at 11:00 am.