I wanted to share with you the story of his incredible life.
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Arthur Bishop (1923 - 2013)
"Being born of fame is not like earning it. You have to create your own worth in other coin; you have to escape history's shadow and get, as they say, a life"
Family and friends are remembering and celebrating the life of Arthur Bishop who passed away this week at the age of 89. Colorful, outspoken, hilarious, fearless, pugnacious, loquacious, prolific, and determined-Arthur Bishop was all of these things and more. He also lived a remarkable life.
Arthur was the son of World War 1 flying ace William Avery (Billy) Bishop VC CB DSO MC DFC, and Margaret Eaton Burden, granddaughter of department store founder Timothy Eaton. He was born in London, England in 1923. Christened William Arthur Christian Avery Bishop, his godfather was Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, a former governor general of Canada, and his godmother was Princess Louise, cousin to Queen Mary. Arthur remarked many times that while his pedigree was indeed impressive, he would have rather had the money.
While Arthur struggled graciously all his life to live up to the reputation of his famous father, he was a war hero in his own right. He enlisted in the RCAF in 1941 and was posted to 401 Squadron as a spitfire pilot. With his fighter pilot colleagues, Arthur flew hundreds of missions, engaging in low level sweeps over France, searching out German airfields, destroying enemy planes in the air and transport vehicles on the ground. During the invasion in 1945, Arthur's squadron faced an endless barrage of enemy fire while securing the air over the Normandy beaches. He was also shot down twice and lived to tell the tale.
Following the war, Arthur embarked on a successful career as a journalist, advertising executive, and entrepreneur. He employed his extraordinary writing skills as a reporter at The Windsor Star. He then joined Ronald Advertising Agency, where he rose to become senior partner, director and vice president. In 1967, he formed PPS Publicity, serving some of Canada's leading corporations. He was also the co-founder and director of the Canadian Fighter Pilots Association, as well as director of the Canadian International Air Show.
On the personal side, in 1946 Arthur married Priscilla Jean Aylen, the daughter of John Alden Aylen QC, and Jean Oliver Anderson of Ottawa. Priscilla was Arthur's muse, conversation companion, business partner, and literary advisor. They had two children, Diana Elizabeth Bishop and William Aylen Bishop.
In retirement, Arthur embarked on a second career, becoming one of the country's leading authorities of Canadian military history. His history books are a national treasure, documenting in detail our country's military heritage. His first book was Courage of the Early Morning (1965), the best-selling biography of his father Billy Bishop, and the source material for the stage play Billy Bishop Goes To War.
The rest of his canon includes Courage In The Air (1992), Courage On The Battlefield (1993), Courage at Sea (1994), The Splendid Hundred-True Stories of Canadians Who Flew in The Battle of Britain (1994), Our Bravest and Best: Stories of Canada's Victoria Cross Winners (1995), Canada's Glory: Battles That Forged A Nation 1795-1953 (1996), S*A*L*U*T*E: Canada's Great Military Leaders From Brock To Dextraze (1997), Destruction At Dawn (1998) and Unsung Courage (2001). He also wrote an autobiography called Winged Combat (2002)
In 1999 he was awarded the Bear Hackle Award for his contribution to Canadian military history by the York Garrison of the 78th Fraser Highlanders. In 2003, he was named Guardian Commander of the Canadian Veterans Hall of Valour for his outstanding contributions to the history of Canada's military heroes.
Arthur's outrageous jokes, priceless stories and strong opinions will be long remembered by everyone who knew him, especially his friends and tennis partners at The Badminton & Racquet Club of Toronto, where he continued to play tennis well into his eighties. He will also be fondly remembered by John Dewar & Sons for his single-handed strengthening of the company's balance sheet.
Arthur is survived by his two children Diana and Bill, his sister Margaret Marise (Jackie) Willis-O-Connor, his brother-in-law John Aylen QC, his grandchildren William Douglas Bishop and Robin Emily Schulman, his daughter-in-law Dr. Ginny McFarlane, and his long-time friend and companion Joceyln Minton.
The family would also like to thank the staff and caregivers at The Kensington Retirement Residence in Toronto for the tireless and compassionate care they gave Arthur during his final years.
Friends and family are invited to raise a glass and share their favorite Arthur Bishop story at a memorial celebration at The Badminton & Racquet Club of Toronto on Saturday, February 23rd from 3 pm to 6 pm.
Watch the video below, produced for The Billy Bishop Toronto Centre Airport, with the last taped interview with Arthur.