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On Sunday May 7, at St Mark’s, Ocean Park, Happy Birthday was sung by the 8am congregation with a vanilla cake to share following worship.  At the principal celebration of the Eucharist at 10am, a birthday blessing was sung, with Happy Birthday and a large chocolate cake at coffee time.  

Tuesday, May 9, St Mark’s Men’s Club celebrated Percy’s birthday with singing and cake.

On Wednesday, May 10, the parish organized a catered dinner of roast beef or chicken for over 100 invited guests including Percy’s 3 children: Peter, Wendy, and Baden, their spouses and some of Percy’s grandchildren. Grace was said by Deacon, the Reverend Steve Bailey.

Special birthday greetings were received from the Governor General, The Right Honourable Mary Simon; and Member of Parliament for Surrey-White Rock, Kerri-Lyn Finlay. Percy received video messages from his one remaining sister, in Australia, along with several other family members in Australia and Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, greetings from King Charles III had not yet been received as the king has been very busy lately.

Percy presented his story of a long and active life, born one of 9 children in Sri Lanka (called Ceylon at the time). The family lived near the sea so he swam and snorkeled daily.  The current was strong, so they would put their clothes on top of a bright umbrella on a stick in the beach, so when they were finished swimming they would know where to find them.

In 1939, when Percy was 16, war was declared. The British sent troops to protect Ceylon, which dramatically changed the lives of the people of Ceylon. Those drafted from Ceylon were mostly shipped overseas to Africa.  Percy’s mother forbade him from going to war before getting his education, so the day he matriculated he enlisted in the navy, and then went home and informed his parents. He served 4 ½ years in the navy in the Persian Gulf area.  Later, Percy served in the Burma, Malaya, and Singapore area, until the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan.  

Percy’s mother sent him a ticket home and the day after arriving in Ceylon he was married.

In 1956, with his family he came to Canada, where there were plenty of jobs and opportunities. First Montreal, then Ottawa, Calgary, finally arriving in BC in 1971.

Percy stated that his spiritual life was important to him. It was engrained as a little boy – as a chorister and server.  He said he “became a soldier of Christ – without Christ things are not possible.”

Percy was actively involved with Probus (Professional Business) men’s club, the Canadian Legion, Burma Star Group, his strata council, and of course, the Parish of St. Mark, Ocean Park.

Secrets to living to 100:

  1. Do not smoke
  2. Maintain a healthy weight
  3. Maintain regular physical exercise
  4. Maintain a healthy diet
  5. Get enough sleep
  6. Good genetics
  7. Good social support
  8. Be yourself
  9. Use your time constructively
  10. Have an active spiritual life.

There was an open mic which included a member of the strata council where Percy lives. Percy’s neighbour disclosed that Percy is also a colleague as the new centenarian currently serves on their strata council. Other speakers: his family doctor who noted his punctuality and spectacular looking shoes; his dental office technician who mentioned Percy was always on time and well-dressed. Percy said his “mom told him to never leave the house without being well-dressed.” Jim Statton flew in from Newfoundland, who with Percy’s help created a space for veterans and first responders to be treated for work related injuries. A Probus member stated that Percy always got the first parking spot, and as treasurer always made sure they were on budget. Percy’s daughter and a granddaughter spoke about his love for his family.

All celebrated with a rendition of Happy Birthday and a huge chocolate cake.

Article and photos assembled with files from Barb Walks


  • The candles are beginning to melt 
  • Percy poses with his second of four church cakes after the Eucharist on May 7
  • Percy prepares to blow at the candles at the catered parish dinner party
  • Bernie Toews, Percy and the Reverend Steve Bailey 
  • Percy’s 3 children and daughter-in-law
  • A view of the dinner in the parish hall
  • The Smith Family.