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Wednesday April 14, 2010

R. MARTIN KENNEY B.A., M.ED., C.D , 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 in 1932, Martin was the eldest son of Canada's top Big Band orchestra leader of the 1930s and 1940s, 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, the Kenney home. It also led to his lifelong love of music. Martin became a star at one of Canada's leading independent schools for boys: Appleby College in Oakville, Ont. In Grade 13, he was the Captain of the varsity football and hockey teams, the Head of the Cadet Corps, and Head Boy. He then attended Queen's University, where he played as a fullback on the Golden Gaels football team. In 1956, Martin went on to graduate first in his class in the Royal Canadian Air Force, starting several years of distinguished service as a Flying Officer assigned to the 409 'Nighthawks' Squadron at CFB Comox. From there he flew in the defence of Canada, piloting CF-100s during the Cold War, often turning Soviet 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 crewmember arranging a blind date for Martin ­ in his flight suit ­ with the former Strawberry Festival Princess of Mission, B.C., the beautiful and gracious Lynne Tunbridge. Only a few weeks later, they wed. At the request of his old Headmaster, Dr. John Bell, Martin left the Air Force in 1962 to return to Appleby College where 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, while obtaining a BA, a Masters degree in Philosophy of Education, and his teaching certification. In 1973, he was appointed Headmaster of Balmoral Hall School for Girls in Winnipeg. Martin helped to lead a significant turnaround in the school's finances and enrolment, and made many lasting Winnipeg friendships. Martin was asked to succeed the nationally renowned Père Athol Murray as President of Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Sask. in 1976, following Murray's death. The College had developed a unique reputation as a hardscrabble school of character by using sport (especially hockey), academics, and spiritual development to transform kids from all walks of life into exceptional, freethinking leaders. But Notre Dame had fallen on hard times. Working with his friend and mentor, 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 went 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 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. He retired, for good this time, in 1999, eventually moving to Calgary, where Martin continued to 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 made a lasting 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 that he had ever done. He leaves behind his cherished 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. (Mart) and Rosetta (Etty). Those wishing to pay their respects may do so at Commemorative Services (5502­2nd St. SW, Calgary, AB) on Thursday, April 15, 2010 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Mary's Cathedral (219­18th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB) on Friday, April 16, 2010 at 1:00 pm. Reception to follow. Condolences may be for warded through www.commemorativeservices.ca. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Martin may be made to Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, Box 100, Wilcox, SK, S0G 5E0 www.notredame.ca) or to the Military Families Fund (c/o Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency, 4210 Labelle St., Ottawa, ON K1A 0K2 www.cfpsa.com/mfamily/). Arrangements in care of EVAN J. STRONG COMMEMORATIVE SERVICES. (403) 265-1199

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