Ralph HENNESSY
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HENNESSY, Ralph L.
Vice Admiral (Ret'd)
DSC, CD, RCN, BA
5 September 1918 to 13 June 2014
Crossed the bar, ever so peacefully on 13 June, most cherished and beloved husband of Diana and the late Constance O'Neil, predeceased by his brother LCol Brian Hennessy (Margaret) and sister Joan, much loved Dad of Diana, Michael (Leslie Lahey), Terence and Tim (Dore Vanden Heuvel), and grandfather of Brendan Hennessy and Twyla Heuvel-Bernier.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland he was the eldest son of Col Patrick Hennessy, DSO, MC, Croix de Guerre, Medaille de la reconnaissance Française, and Ellen Robb, and grandson, great-grandson and great-great-grandson of soldiers.
In August 1936, when he enrolled in the Royal Canadian Navy as an Officer Cadet, he became the first Hennessy in four generations not to serve in the British Army in time of war.
Between 1936 and 1939 he underwent training with the Royal Navy which included service on Non-Intervention Patrols during the Spanish Civil War and on the Africa Station. The former was his first experience facing enemy fire. At the outbreak of World War II he was a newly commissioned Sub-Lieutenant and part of the commissioning crew of HMCS ASSINIBOINE where he spent nearly four years of the war. In August, 1942, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross following ASSINIBOINE's successful surface battle against the German U-boat, U-210 which was presented to him by HM King George VI on May 11, 1943.
Particular war time memories include: his two appointments in command of ASSINIBOINE, the first when he was 24 years old, participating in the early stages of the chase for Bismarck and screening the battleship HMS Prince of Wales with Prime Minister Winston Churchill embarked for the historic meeting off Argentia, Newfoundland to draft the Atlantic Charter and the second was in the final winter of the war.
In 1945 he commissioned the destroyer HMCS MICMAC as her first Commanding Officer. He was promoted Commander in 1948 and served at sea in command of HMCS MICMAC, as Executive Officer of HMCS QUEBEC, and in the rank of Captain as Commander First Canadian Escort Squadron and CO HMCS ALGONQUIN. He also had numerous shore appointments in Ottawa, Halifax and London, England. In London, he served as Deputy Naval Member of the Canadian Joint Liaison Staff and Chairman NATO Military Agency for Standardization. He was appointed to Naval Headquarters in 1958 as Director Naval Training, followed by promotion to Deputy Chief Personnel, then Commodore Personnel Atlantic Coast in 1964.
He returned to the newly established Canadian Forces Headquarters as Member and Chairman of the Minister's Manpower Studies (Officers) and Military Manpower Studies (Men). In July 1966 as the controversial integration and unification of the Canadian Forces was occurring, he was promoted directly from the rank of Commodore to Vice Admiral, serving as Comptroller-General of the Canadian Forces and as Principal Naval Advisor thus being the 11th officer to serve as de facto head of the RCN from 1966 to 1968. He was appointed Chief of Personnel in 1969 before retiring in 1971 after 35 years' service.
His decorations include: The Distinguished Service Cross; The 1939 - 45 Star; The Atlantic Star with France and Germany Clasp; The Defence Medal; The Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp; The War Medal 1939 - 45; The Canadian Centennial Medal; The Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal; The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, The Canadian Forces' Decoration with two Clasps and the Corps of Commissionaires Medal with three Clasps.
Remembrance Day was always an emotional day for Ralph with memories of his father who was killed in action in Hong Kong in 1941, after surviving the Boer War and WW I and of shipmates who lost their lives. He could never forget the merchant sailors; those they picked up and those they had to leave in the water. They shall not be forgotten and we must never forget the debt we owe all veterans.
Following retirement from the RCN, he was appointed by Order-in-Council as the founding Executive Director of the Standards Council of Canada (Ottawa), in which position he served for 12 years. During this period, he also served as Vice-President of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO, Geneva) from 1976 to 1981, the first Canadian to hold that office.
He was also actively involved in the Corps of Commissionaires Ottawa Branch including two years as Chair of the Board of Governors and subsequently as an Honorary Governor. He is a former President and long-time member of the Royal Ottawa Golf Club. Always learning, in May 1995 he was graduated from the University of Waterloo with a BA in History (Dean's Honours List). Latterly his love of the sea, and that of Diana's, was satisfied through cruising to numerous destinations and reuniting with friends and family from around the world.
He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and friend. As an officer and leader, he took exemplary care of his sailors and their welfare. A consummate gentleman, he epitomized integrity, loyalty and trustworthiness.
The care, attention and love that Dr. Ngo-Minh and his Rideau 1 South team provided Ralph during his four year residence at The Perley Rideau was exceptional. He/they have been consummate professionals who came to love him. From the depth of my heart, my thanks for all of your care, support, and personal kindnesses - Diana.
Friends are invited to visit at the Central Chapel of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, 315 McLeod Street, Ottawa (at O'Connor) from 1900 - 2100 on Monday 23 June and from 1300 - 1700 on Tuesday 24 June.
The Funeral will take place at 1100 on Wednesday 25 June in the Sacred Space of The Beechwood National Memorial Centre, 280 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa, followed by Interment at The National Military Cemetery and a reception at Beechwood.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust, HMCS Sackville, PO Box 99000, Stn Forces, Halifax, NS B3K 5X5 or The Perley Rideau Veterans Health Centre Foundation, 1750 Russell Road, Ottawa, Ontario, K1G 5Z6 would be most appreciated by the family.
Condolences/Tributes
www.mcgarryfamily.ca
613-233-1143


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Published in Ottawa Citizen from Jun. 21 to Jun. 23, 2014.
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Memories & Condolences
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15 entries
January 20, 2015
Good Day Diane,
I'm hoping that you remember me from that famous Canav cruise that Rolie Leduc set up in 2000. (See photo attached). It was there that I met you and your great husband Rear Admiral “Spike” Hennessy as we knew him in the lower decks. He was a “Sailor's Sailor” and always took care of us lower deck ratings when the need arose.
I was telling a story about Capt. Budge aboard HMCS Quebec to the group when Admiral Hennessy broke in and finished it for me. My late Wife Muriel (who was on the cruise with me at that time) was absolutely amazed that some of the yarns that I had spun when I got out of the Navy were actually true. ? She was even more amazed that a Rear-Admiral had vouched for them.

I was very occupied at the time of the Admiral's death and didn't get a chance to offer my condolences personally. Would you be kind enough to accept them at this late date.?
Andy Barber Vice President Friends of HMCS Haida Association
November 20, 2014
So sorry to hear about Vice Admiral Hennessy he certainly will be missed all your shipmates at the HMCS Uganda/Quebec Veterans Association
Sec.Hmcs Uganda/Quebec Veterans Assn.
July 2, 2014
On behalf of the Company of Master Mariners of Canada (Capital Division) we wish to express our sorrow at the passing of Ralph Hennessy and extend our condolences to his family.
Ralph, better than anyone else, understood the sacrifices of wartime seafarers and provided unqualified support for Merchant Navy Veterans during the many years leading up to the recognition of this service as true war veterans.
It was great working with you Ralph — rest in peace.
Captain Michael Hubbard, Capital Divisional Master
June 29, 2014
Mrs. Hennessy, you and your husband always welcomed me so warmly whenever I saw you at the Perley. He was such a dignified man, and your devotion to each other was inspiring. Please accept my condolences.
Yumi Webster
June 24, 2014
Condolences to those left behind. Memories of our youth are often recalled during the sunset years. By following the advice and leadership he passed on to me while I served in "Algonquin" as a young Able Seaman, I progressed, matured and continued to serve.Thank you Sir.
William G. Rose Lt. R.C.N. Rtd.
June 24, 2014
Diana and family, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I will always cherish our lunches together at the Perley.
Doreen Rocque
June 23, 2014
What a great honour it was to sculpt Admiral Hennessy's official portrait bust for the Royal Canadian Navy. I am humbled to have known such a great man and true hero. "The Lord watch between me and thee -Mizpah- when we are absent one from another."
Christian Corbet, SiR - RCN
June 23, 2014
So sorry to hear this news. It was a pleasure to meet this fine and noble man at the Perley and to spend time with him and his lovely wife.
Gayle Crozier Willi
June 22, 2014
Dear Diana,
Our sincere condolences with the death of your beloved Ralph we got to know as a good friend thanks to our
long-standing friendship.
You are truly in our thoughts and prayers. God bless and keep you.
Coby & Jan Blom, Netherlands
Jan Blom
June 22, 2014
He will be remembered for being a gentleman and a gentle man. Ralph and Dianna have eternally joined our family in our hearts. He will be missed.
Mary Ann Smith
June 22, 2014
I first met the Admiral at the ACPOA mini reunions in Orlando, Fl. 1996. To me he was the consummate Officer & Gentleman. Diana, our sincere condolences. Les & Penny Seebold
Les & Penny Seebold
June 22, 2014
So sorry for your loss- he was a very nice gentleman.
Richard Allen (former Watergate Doorman)
Richard Allen
June 21, 2014
We are truly blessed to have known the Admiral and to be a friend of Diana. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Bridget, Pierre and Ella
Bridget Buchanan
June 21, 2014
The Admiral, Ella, Bridget and Diana
Bridget Buchanan
June 21, 2014
My belated husband and I felt priviliged to know this exemplary Naval officer as a friend. God Bless you Diana and the family.
Pearl Flanagan
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