A life lived to the fullest
The big, burly Mountie could face down a criminal – but needed his cab-driver buddy to ask out the pretty nurse he would see each day as she walked to work.
Forty-nine years later, that nurse was there when her Mountie looked into the eyes of each member of his family and peacefully passed away.
Between those two moments was a life lived to the fullest by Roy Baron, with his wife, Joyce, right by his side.
Joyce didn’t even pause to consider it before accepting the date request relayed through the cabbie. After all, she’d seen the six-foot-three-inch officer when she had walked by the barracks in Oliver and had been interested since the first time she looked at him.
Roy was 21 when they wed. Joyce was 22.
Roy’s job took them from Oliver to Prince George to Vancouver and, finally, to Kamloops, where Roy decided it was time for a career change and left the force to start the next stage of his life as a businessman.
First came the Inlander Pub in Valleyview — just west of its location today in Falcon Plaza.
Next came Duffy’s Pub in Dufferin — hence the name — and, while they still owned it, Roy started up Jack Daniel’s downtown. The name didn’t last long as the Lynchburg, Tenn. distillery took exception and had its lawyers send a letter relaying that message.
Cactus Jack’s Saloon was then born and the nightclub at Fifth Avenue and Lansdowne Street is where stories of Roy Baron’s life will be told on Saturday, Feb. 16, during a 7 p.m. memorial service.
No doubt there will be talk this weekend about Roy’s love of flight, a passion he had hoped would give him a career as a pilot, but his height was a problem.
“He couldn’t fit in the planes,” Joyce said. “Back then, they were smaller. But, he loved to fly. He got his licence when he was 17, as early as he could.
He was a good pilot who at one time owned three planes he used to run a charter airline — and to fly Joyce to vacation spots.
Roy also spent a bit of time as a teenager playing hockey in high school, another love he carried through his life, playing in the local old timers’ league up until he got sick about 18 months ago.
“He really missed it when we went south,” Joyce said of her husband’s love of the game.
For Roy, it was a fun but, for their son, Murray, it became a passion that saw him make it to the National Hockey League.
All the Barons are still involved in the business Roy started, sharing ownership of Cactus Jack’s — although Joyce said she doesn’t go there very often.
“I’d feel like everyone’s grandmother if I went.”
Roy loved his boat and fishing, but never really got interested in golf, Joyce said, despite all their trips south to areas where the tee rules.
It was the getting-there that was his joy, packing up the motorhome and heading off for new destinations, seeing new things and making some longstanding friendships with like-minded people.
Kathy Ross was one of them and she, along with her husband and two other couples, headed north from Palm Desert last week in hopes of seeing their friend one more time.
They didn’t make it before Roy died, but they have mental filing cabinets full of memories, of stories, of moments spent with the Barons.
“It’s rare to find friendship like this,” Kathy said.
“He was a man of very few words, but he had that look that spoke volumes. And he had such a dry sense of humour.
“He was such an astute businessman and has been part of the woodwork of Kamloops for years and years and years. He’s done a lot for the city of Kamloops.”
Family and close friends knew Roy’s illness was terminal.
“But, he never gave up,” Kathy said.
“He went through the chemo, but he always had a hopeful attitude.
“But, when he decided last Sunday that he’d fought long enough, that was it and we knew it would be quick.”
And, just as that first look 49 years ago started a life together, the last one brought the chapter to a close.
“He looked me in the eyes and smiled,”