Remembrances and other items.
We hardly knew ye.
In the beginning of Saltscapes there was a column called the Biker Chick. In it, Katharine Mott told tales about travelling the highways and byroads of the Atlantic Provinces with her "boy next door," Billy Stewart. The flavour of the Biker Chick stories set the tone for the current Just Katharine column.
Katharine and Billy were lifelong friends; he was her next-door neighbour in Dalhousie, NB; their mothers were best friends. They grew up together. Their lives intersected throughout their life travels; they shared life's ups and downs all along the way.
On December 6, 2013, Billy died of a combination of lung disease and instant heart failure after a full and remarkably original life, without almost ever having to wear a tie.
Billy graduated from high school and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. He became a jet jockey flying such aircraft as T-33s and F-86s, and his favourite, the F-104 Starfighter. At the age of 24 he joined Canada's aerobatic team, the Golden Hawks, and did shows across Canada, Europe and the United States. When the Hawks were disbanded, Billy gave a series of solo aerobatic shows across Canada, as the Air Force paid tribute to a man who could take a "rocket with a pilot in it" through altitudes and positions and speeds and manoeuvers that seemed to defy the abilities of the plane, man, and often physics itself.
Billy retired from the Air Force, spent a stint with Transport Canada, and then retired to his F-104 substitute, the Honda Gold Wing motorcycle. He rode his steed across Canada and the US more than once, taking his friend Katharine with him on a couple of jaunts to the West Coast.
His contributions to Saltscapes were significant-he loved to explore the side roads, meet and chat with people whenever and wherever they stopped. Along with their friend George Boone he entertained at the first couple of Saltscapes Expos-George on his guitar and Billy on his harmonica.
Billy remained a large part of the Saltscapes community long after he retired his Gold Wings. All his friends and readers will miss him. In his own words, he is now "doing loops and rolls in a 104 with unlimited gas." We could ask no better farewell to a fine friend.
Silently I weep
Never will I know
He made me sing
Such are the ones
- An Admirer, 10 Jan 2013