KENNEY, R. Martin January 8, 1932 April 9, 2010 Martin Kenney will be fondly remembered by those who knew him as larger than life: a patriotic Canadian, fighter pilot, sportsman, educator, leader, mentor to thousands of young people, and loving husband, father, and grandfather. Proud of his Irish heritage, he was a peerless raconteur and master teller of tales, with an occasional tendency to gild the lily. Born in Vancouver, B.C., in 1932, Martin was the eldest son of Canada's leading Big Band orchestra leader of the 1930's and 1940's, Mart Kenney. This meant a colourful upbringing for him and his brother Jack, with family friends like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Fats Waller passing through, and sometimes jamming at home. It also meant a lifelong love for music. Martin became a star at one of Canada's leading independent schools for boys Appleby College in Oakville, ON. In grade 13, he was the Captain of the varsity football and hockey teams, the Head of the Appleby Cadet Corp, and Head Boy. He then attended Queen's University, where he played as a fullback on the Golden Gaels football team. In 1954 Martin went on to graduate first in his class in the Royal Canadian Air Force, starting 8 years as a jet fighter pilot. He served with distinction as a Flying Officer assigned to the 'Night Hawks' 409 Squadron at CFB Comox. From there he flew in the defence of Canada during the Cold War in CF-100s, often turning Soviet Buffalo Bombers back over the North Pacific as they would test NORAD Air Defence response times. A number of his fellow pilots and navigators were lost on those difficult missions. December 20, 1958 was the luckiest day of Martin's life. Bad weather forced him to land in Vancouver, which led to a crew member arranging a blind date for Martin in his flight suit with the former Strawberry Festival Princess of Mission, BC, the beautiful and gracious Lynne Tunbridge. Only a few weeks later they wed. Martin left the Air Force in 1962 and returned to Appleby College at the request of his old Headmaster, Dr. John Bell, to become a teacher of boys. He taught history, coached hockey and football, ran the cadet corps, and was the Housemaster (and often surrogate dad) of up to 90 boys in residence. At the same time he managed to begin raising a family, obtaining a BA, and a Masters degree in Philosophy of Education, and teaching certification. In 1973, he was appointed Headmaster of Balmoral Hall School for Girls in Winnipeg, MB. Martin helped to lead a significant turnaround in the school's finances and enrolment, and made many lasting Winnipeg friendships. Martin was asked in 1976 to succeed the late and nationally renowned Pere Athol Murray as President of Notre Dame College in Wilcox, SK. The College had developed a unique reputation as a hard-scrabble school of character by using sport (especially hockey), academics, and spiritual development to transform kids from all walks of life into exceptional, free-thinking leaders. But Notre Dame had fallen on hard times. Working with his friend and mentor, late College Chancellor Frederick W. Hill, Martin helped to breathe new life into the College, turning it around financially by raising millions of dollars from donors across the country, and recruiting talented student-athletes, many of whom have gone on to successful sports careers in the NHL, and in other walks of life. He served there with great distinction until his first retirement in 1992, but continued to love and support his "Hounds" until the very end. Bored by retirement, Martin accepted an offer in 1993 to run one of the largest international schools in the gulf states as Headmaster of Emirates International School in Dubai. He and Lynne spent several colourful years there, enjoying the cosmopolitan nature of the school and city. They retired in 1999, eventually moving to Calgary, where Martin continued, as a volunteer, to help mentor young people in need. Throughout his long vocation, his students knew him to be a solid and loving influence on their sometimes turbulent lives. Martin was the proud father of three sons, but he is fondly remembered by hundreds of others who were, in many ways, his surrogate children. He would remember nearly every child's name in his school. He would give special attention to those going through difficult times. He would impart tough love and a deep concern for their well being, pressing them to realize their potential. His care and concern showed, making a big difference in many lives. Martin Kenney was a big-hearted and generous man. To him there were no strangers, only friends he had not yet made, and stories he had not yet told. He died peacefully on Friday, April 9 from a systemic infection. Family members say his passing was the quietest thing he ever did. He leaves behind his beloved wife of 51 years, Lynne; sons Martin, David, and Jason; brother Jack and sister Elizabeth; grandchildren Quinn, Chandler, Conor, Roarke, and Aamor. He joins his beloved parents Martin H. and Rosetta. Those wishing to pay their respects may do so at Commemorative Services (5502-2nd St. SW / one block east of Macleod Trail on 53rd Avenue SW, Calgary, AB) on Thursday, April 15, 2010 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Mary's Cathedral (219 18th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB) on Friday, April 16, 2010 at 1:00 pm. Reception to follow. Condolences may be forwarded through www.commemorativeservices.ca . In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Martin may be made to Athol Murray College of Notre Dame (Attention: Archie Ledgerwood, Box 100, Wilcox, SK, S0G 5E0 ( www.notredame.ca ) or to the Military Families Fund (c/o Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency, 4210 Labelle Street, Ottawa, ON K1A 0K2, www.cfpsa.com/en/corporate/mFamily/index.asp ). Arrangements in care of EVAN J. STRONG COMMEMORATIVE SERVICES. (403) 265-1199
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Published in Leader-Post from Apr. 13 to Apr. 14, 2010.