John Ayling died Monday, at age 100

Ed. note: Local centanarian John Ayling died Monday at age 100. As per his wishes, he was cremated and a celebration of life will take place at a later date. The following story was from his 100th birthday on March 20, 2018.

Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — A week of parties can wear a guy out.

John Ayling, who turned 100 on March 20, was in pretty good health even in recent months and was still acive and often seen out in the community.

Especially when you’re 100 and you’ve been burning a lot of candles at both ends for a century.

But if you’re John Ayling you’ve been there before and got a lot of t-shirts in your day(s).

The centanarian wasn’t much in the mood Wednesday for his big day.

But when they brought out the cake and candles and fellow residents at the Gravenhurst Manor broke out in yet another chorus of Happy Birthday, the old John Ayling came to life – even ever so briefly.

And with a twinkle in his eyes.

Just like usual; he can still turn it on when he has to.

For that’s the way it’s always been for the long retired engineer.

And this past week was no different.

Starting last Thursday, when staff at the Manor held their annual monthly birthday celebration, and Ayling was just one of those being honoured.

But with a milestone like his hundredth, he was the guest of honour.

Saturday was the big day for him.

Not that it was just St. Padd’s Day, but at the Gravenhurt Seniors’ Centre it was St. John’s Day.

And a fitting party it twas.

From front to back — with his old bandmates in the Bifocals Band on stage — to the crowded tables and long buffet, it was party befitting a man who has been the life of many a party in the past.

For a guy who played tuba and curled until just four or five short years ago, it was nothing really new.

Still, to witness all the well-wishers, you’d think he was the first person to achieve this remarkable moment in life.

They were gussing over him and kissing him well, which he didn’t mind at all.

It suited his life well.

As one of the Manor speakers told the more than 100 people gathered — at least one for every year of his life — Ayling truly does spark up a crowd.

She said when he moved into the retirement home a few years ago at 97, after living alone at his home in the Wartime Houses, he lit up the place.

A character for sure. He still stands close to his six-foo-tall height and still stands out in a crowd with his booming voice and friendly “Hello!”

With a relatively good memory, good eyesight and not bad hearing, he’s a testament to good living and a well-lived life.

Yesterday morning just befor lunch, on March 20, his real birthdate, it looked like he was just happy to bask in the sunlight of the front porch overlooking Muskoka Road with new and old friends.

But when he entered the living room-turned-dining room, which had shed its days before shamrocks and green beer for Easter decorations, there was little hop in his step as he acknowledged one more toast to the start of a second century.

Not many people can say that.

Not many people deserve that.

John Ayling is one good guy who does deserve that.

“Here’s to you,” they said.

“One hundred more years to you.”

“Oh, yeah,” he groaned.

“I don’t know.”

Well, one more day, anyway.

That should be enough for a guy 100.