John Hillman, 105-year-old decorated veteran who raised $468K for children, passes

John Hillman, 105-year-old decorated veteran who raised $468K for children, passes

John Hillman, the Oak Bay decorated veteran who raised nearly half a million dollars for charity has passed away.

The Carlton House, where Hillman previously resided, confirmed to CHEK News the 105-year-old man passed away in his sleep on Sunday.

“It’s a great loss for us all, but we know he’s in a better place,” Jacqueline Prewett, Carlton House, said.

One of the owners of the retirement home, who kept in contact with Hillman, says the veteran was hospitalized for a few months.

Hillman is best known for his years of birthday celebrations where he’d walk hundreds of laps around his former retirement home to raise money for the charity Save the Children.

“He spent his life serving others and even in his old age that’s what he wanted to do, he wanted to help people,” Prewett said.

Broadmead Care, where he lived before he passed, called Hillman a “cherished member” of the community and a “remarkable individual.”

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“Throughout his time with us, John remained an inspiring figure, always dedicated to his mission of helping others. His contributions to various charitable causes have left an indelible mark on our community and beyond,” said the nursing home.

“While we respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time, we can share that John’s spirit and dedication to philanthropy will be remembered fondly by all who knew him. We encourage those who were inspired by his work to continue his legacy of kindness and generosity.”

Life of service

Hillman joined the Royal Air Force in 1937 and went on to serve as a radio operator in the Second World War, earning multiple medals. The 105-year-old helped drop supplies to allies during the war.

Following the war, the decorated veteran moved to Victoria in 1999 with his wife, Irene, and eventually would reside at the Carlton House in Oak Bay.

While residing, Hillman learned of another fellow allied serviceman, Capt. Sir Thomas Moore, who started a walking fundraiser. The British comrade went on to raise $67 million for the National Health Service in England.

During COVID-19, Hillman was inspired to launch his own campaign to help raise funds for Save the Children, walking the same number of laps as his age every year. This began in 2020 when he was just 101 years old.

For the next four years, Hillman walked around the courtyard of the Carlton House for his birthday surrounded by fans, family and friends. To date, he’s helped raise more than $460,000.

“He’ll be remembered for a very long time,” Kevin Murdoch, mayor of Oak Bay, said.

Murdoch added while he does see dedication to the public good throughout the community, Hillman is an inspiration and exemplary model.

“Just how do I use my life to make the world a better place, that’s hard to replace,” he said.

For his 105th birthday this year, Hillman said he was hanging up his shoes, taking his final lap.

“I hope you have a lovely day because I’m having a perfect day,” Hillman said to a crowd back in March.

Hillman chose Save the Children to help fight hardships children experience.

“Having experienced war himself at only 17, he uniquely understood the impact that adversity has on these young lives,” reads his fundraising page.

The CEO of the charity expressed deep sadness for Hillman’s passing and said his legacy will forever be remembered.

“He demonstrated a boundless spirit and compassion for others and embodied the very essence of our organization’s values,” said Danny Glenwright.

While Hillman is not physically here to walk his annual fundraiser anymore, Carlton House says his legacy will live on.

“John wanted his legacy to continue even after he was gone, he wanted his fund to remain open and continue raising money for Save the Children,” Prewett said. “We promised him we would keep it open and keep sharing it with people. I think he can rest easy knowing that’s what we are going to do.”

Every year on Hillman’s birthday, they will open his fundraising page back up to continue raising money for his charity of choice.

“We’ll tell everybody that it would be John’s birthday again, now he would be 106 years old and hopefully people will continue to support it,” she added.


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