Nfld. & Labrador

Veteran, reverend, skydiver Wesley Oake dies at 96

One of the last Newfoundland and Labrador veterans of the Second World War has died.

Second World War veteran died in Gander on Sunday

Rev. Wesley Oake, seen here last year and during his service in the Second World War, is remembered as a man who showed people that 'anything was possible.' (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

One of the last Newfoundland and Labrador veterans of the Second World War has died.

Reverend Wesley Oake died in Gander on Sunday. He was 96.

Speaking to CBC last year, he described Christmas 1944, when his regiment was dug in all winter, and the time he spotted something in the snow.

"A mother and a baby, wrapped up in her arms, dead, frozen in the snow. That's about the worst thing I had to contend with when I was in the war," he said.

"It was desperate, what people lived through."

Oake, right, got a chance to see some of Italy's major cities, such as Florence, during his three years there. (Submitted)

Oake grew up in Beaumont and Robert's Arm in Notre Dame Bay.

Serving with the 166th (Newfoundland) Field Regiment in the last three years of the war, he saw action overseas in England, Africa and Italy.

Oake spent the majority of his time overseas in Italy, at times living in a henhouse.

Recounting memories of WW II

Here and Now

3 years ago
Wesley Oake, 95, tells some of his more heart-wrenching memories of time spent fighting overseas during the Second World War. 6:14

He was ordained a minister with the United Church of Canada in 1965 and had ministries in Newfoundland and Ontario before semi-retiring in 1987.

Louis Pearce, former president of the Royal Canadian Legion in Gander and current services officer, says Oake was an inspiration to all who met him.

"He showed us that anything could be done, regardless of how difficult you thought it was."

Oake proved that to the world when at age 92, he skydived from 10,000 feet to raise money for Gander's Heritage Memorial Park. That event raised $35,000.

92-year-old war vet skydives for charity


7 years ago
Wes Oake jumps from 10,000 feet to raise money for Heritage Memorial Park in Gander, N.L. 0:28

Oake also stayed active in the legion, working as the 2nd visiting officer and chaplain with the branch.

He leaves behind many family and friends, including his wife Myrtle. They would have celebrated their 72nd anniversary Sept. 25.

Oake and his wife, Myrtle, would have celebrated their 72nd anniversary later this month. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Funeral services will take place Sept. 20 at 2 p.m. at Fraser Road United Church in Gander.

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