WWII veteran Jim Warr, 92, reflects on leaving a Legacy Gift

When asked why he chose to name the United Way in his will, Jim Warr smiles and says, “Doesn’t everyone do that?”

Truth be told, Jim Warr feels compelled to give. A long-standing Red Feather donor and United Way volunteer, robust and steadfast for his 92 years, Jim speaks candidly about his sense of duty around giving in general.

“I was fortunate enough to enjoy a successful career so giving just seems like the right thing to do,” he says. “I give to the United Way because I believe it’s an effective way to help people.”

Having served as a United Way Board Director for six years, along with other charitable groups in Victoria and beyond, Jim knows full well that giving matters. “There are principles associated with giving,” he says, “and it really comes down to stewardship for the future.”

A retired mechanical engineer (a UBC Engineering graduate from the class of 1950), mill manager, and a WWII army veteran, Jim sees clearly all that was good in his past even though he grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930s. “All my life, I’ve been blessed with good fortune.”

Born in 1922 and raised in Lethbridge, Alberta, his father was a steam engineer who worked in power plants. His mother managed the home and taught him and his older brother to live within their means. “We saved for the things we wanted. There were no credit cards then.”

Even though times were tight, Jim recalls a loving family with strong ties to the community. “There was good guidance all around me from my parents to boy scouts to the military people I served under.” Based here and overseas as a Lieutenant in army artillery, Jim met his future wife while serving in Victoria. They were married before he went to Europe and remained together for 66 years until she passed away five years ago.

Even with a sure and solid career in the forest industry, Jim went on to face more challenges with the onset of what would become the global environmental movement. As a BC-based manager of timber mills and plywood plants from the 1950s until his retirement in 1983, Jim recalls the impact of protesters constantly pressuring government and industry. “We were called out for air quality. Media identified us as polluters.” Jim shakes his head as he recalls how things used to be with loaded lumber trucks driving down Government Street and ash in the air from mill boilers. “Of course things had to change.”

His same values around wealth and community were applied to corporate responsibility and what would become the first of many workplace United Way campaigns. “I was working for BC Forest Products, then the largest employer in the community. We had a responsibility to give back.”

It’s that same common sense Jim puts toward supporting the United Way with a Legacy Gift. “I think of it as the long view on philanthropy,” he leans in. “Why not help people to make more of their lives so they can go on to build a stronger community that benefits everyone else?”