Bob MacArthur celebrates his 80th birthday – at work


Bob serves up the cake at his 80th birthday party.
Photo: Jeff Gaye

Jeff Gaye

From the time we start our working lives, most of us are dreaming of retirement. Bob MacArthur prefers to work.

MacArthur, who works at the W TEME refuelling section, just celebrated his 80th birthday. He is certainly the oldest employee at 4 Wing, and perhaps the oldest in the Department of National Defence.

He has had several different occupations throughout his working life. He joined the RCAF at age 17, and served for 20 years as a fighter control operator. After that he was a heavy equipment mechanic for 15 years, and then spent 10 years driving tractor-trailers. He could have retired years ago.

So why does he keep coming to work?

“Because I enjoy what I do,” he said. “I like to stay active, it’s the same at home.”

The refuelling section had a party for MacArthur’s 80th birthday last Tuesday. A coworker made an elaborate cake, and W LEO LCol Andrea MacRae and Wing Commander Col Paul Doyle attended. Earlier that morning, three Hornets from 410 Squadron flew over the refuelling section and dipped their wings as a special birthday tribute.

On the job, MacArthur carries his full share of the load. He has earned the Refueller of the Quarter distinction, for issuing the most fuel over a three-month period, five times. “I’m just one of the guys,” he said. And he said having a good team makes work enjoyable.

“Since I’ve been here the majority of personnel have been great to work with. They’re willing to learn, and I’m glad I’m one of the guys that does the teaching. We have good teams on both shifts,” he said.

When he was 17, MacArthur knew he would serve 20 years in uniform and move on. At this stage, though, he doesn’t have a fixed target for when he might retire.

“As far as how long I’m going to be doing this, I have no idea,” he said. “As long as I can get up and I feel good. I can’t just sit at home, I have to get up and do something.”

“I think it helps that you enjoy your job, and I think it helps that you have your coworkers with you. If you didn’t have that, it would be more difficult.”