February 9, 1924 – August 8, 2019
Son of Annie May Johnston and Daniel Roy McIntosh. Never a truer Gentleman existed.
Born in a farmhouse on the outskirts of Chilliwack, to an Irish mother and a Scottish father, Ken lived an idyllic childhood. Orchards in the back yard, grandparents across the street and other family members strewn about the neighbourhood inspired his fondest memories.
During the depression as a young child, Ken recalled the transients who rode-the-rails willing to work for room and board then move on. Living on a farm Ken was lucky to have never grown hungry through those arduous years.
Ken rode his bicycle 7 miles to school daily as a child, much of it along the gravel road they called the Trans Canada Hwy. As he rode, other kids would join him along the way. Often, by the time they reached school he’d have a posse of 10-12 invincible kids.
WWII broke out and he saw siblings and cousins head off to defend our freedom. A few years later, after high school graduation on a Friday, he and three friends carpooled to Jericho Beach to enlist to support the war effort. Ken chose the airforce. By the time he was 18 he had his wings. Thankfully he was not sent abroad immediately as there were enough pilots for the moment. So, he and his friends hitchhiked by military planes to Tijuana, Mexico. It took about 8 flights zig-zagging across the country to get there. After a stellar few weeks, still only 18, he was asked to co-pilot a brand new De-Havilland from the East Coast to Seattle. Shortly after he was called upon to go overseas, the war had ended.
The day of his discharge, walking along Hastings Street downtown Vancouver considering going back to school, Ken saw a sign: “Tele typists Needed.” At 21 years of age he figured he found his calling the moment he walked in, there were about 40 tele typists in the room – all women! he figured the odds were in his favour. That was the first and only job he ever applied for.
Over the years Ken moved up the ranks and continued his university education through his employer. Upon retirement, Ken had about 2500 employees under his watch. He had been instrumental in the development of communications systems in Western Canada, overseeing the first ever fibre-optics cables laid in Canada and the procurement and installation of the first computer in Western Canada at a cost of $5M.
Ken always loved his work, saying he whistled to work and whistled on his way home every single day with the feeling he had accomplished something.
An eternal optimist who always said he lived a blessed life was not a stranger to pain. Ken lost his only son, David (29), to a rare brain disease and his first wife to cancer a few years later.
Ken kept active volunteering 3-5 days a week for various organizations: painting houses for those on income assistance, helping prepare tax returns for the elderly and working at the local thrift shop. When he was not volunteering he could be found parring at least one third of the holes at Kinkora – even right into his 90’s.
In retirement, Ken saw much of the world via Princess Cruise lines with more than 100 weeks at sea over the years. He honed his poker skills on those cruises and on his 80th birthday he entered a tournament in Arizona with over 2000 others. That day lady-luck saw to it that he was the last man standing to everyones’ delight.
Ken was also an active member of Chilliwack’s United Church for many years. It was there that, in the year 2002, a new and beautiful chapter unfolded. Ken encountered a “vision of loveliness” in the pew in-front of him and, with some encouragement from friends, asked her out on a date. In 2003 they were married and the most inspiring love-affair took place. For the next 17 years not a day went by that Ken did not raise a glass to his sweetie and with tears of happiness glazing his eyes say, “Health, Happiness, Love always.”
Ken’s keen wit was always ready when appropriate and never at the expense of others.
There was not one time he raised his voice or spoke ill of anyone even in the most egregious of circumstances.
Ken was the most profound example to his adopted grandsons and great grandsons of what it really means to be a gentleman.
He will be missed dearly by the love of his life, Joan McIntosh, and every one of his surviving relatives – and friends.
There will be an informal outdoor Celebration of Life this Saturday, August 24, from 3 pm-5 pm at Unit 16 – 9102 Hazel St for family and close friends.
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