Kenneth Barry Marsden

June 15, 1939 – June 26, 2021
Our beloved husband and father passed away peacefully, with family, at Vancouver General Hospital in the early hours of July 27th, 2021. Barry was born in Vancouver and in 1949, following the death of his father Kenneth, a logging manager for Canfor, Barry moved to Creston, BC with his mother Agnes, a nurse.
Mechanically minded, Barry was curious and passionate about aviation from a young age. He started flagging for crop spraying aircraft at the age of 13 before he began his aviation career in 1958, flying for Skyway Air Services of Langley.
In 1969, Barry co-founded Conair Aviation, a spinoff of Skyway and dedicated his career to protecting the world from wildfires. He was an exceptional leader who put people first with an unwavering commitment to safety and innovation. Conair Group Inc. grew to become the largest fixed-wing aerial firefighting company in the world.
Barry believed in the power of partnership with colleagues, customers and competitors and in 2001 founded Cascade Aerospace, a world-class maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Abbotsford, BC. For over 52 years, Barry was committed to continually improving aviation and aerial firefighting services globally, and he did so with integrity and a willingness to take calculated risks.
An accomplished pilot with over 10,000 flight hours, as well as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, Barry was also an avid boater. He began sailing with friends in the 1970s and was a proud member of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. At every chance, over the next 40 years, Barry explored BC’s coast with his family and significantly contributed to the design and engineering of his last vessel Marbella, so many happy memories.
Barry was quiet and intensely thoughtful. A mentor and true friend. His fortitude was an inspiration to all who knew him and, to his family, he was our rock. We will honour his wonderful life with the love he showed and subtle lessons he imparted – attitude is everything and the good always wins out.
Barry leaves behind an incredible legacy in recognition of his contributions to the growth of Canada’s aviation industry. He was the first Western Canadian Chairman of Aerospace Industries Association of Canada and recognized with a Masters Air Pilot award from the Guild of Air Pilots & Air Navigators in London, England.
He also received the Freedom of the City of London and became a liveryman of the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators. He was a recipient of the médaille de l’aéronautique from France, honoured with British Columbia Aviation Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award, an inducted member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, and a recipient of the Order of British Columbia and the Order of Canada.
Barry is survived by Karen, his loving wife of 38 years, and his adoring daughters Darsi, Danielle, Kristina and Michelle. Barry leaves behind 6 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Tragically, Barry was predeceased by his youngest grandson, Rhys Kaufmann, aged 21 on May 7, 2021.
Honouring Barry’s wishes, a private service will be held August 12th at 2 pm at St. Francis-in-the-Wood, Caulfield Cove, West Vancouver. Due to the church’s limited capacity, the service will be by invitation only. Barry will also be honoured in his hometown of Creston, BC on August 27th, 2021 at a private ceremony at the Creston Pioneer Cemetery.
Please join us in celebrating Barry’s life as an aerial firefighter, founding member, Chairman and CEO of Conair Group Inc. on October 22nd, 2021 at 2 pm in Hangar 1 at Conair in Abbotsford, BC.
If you would like to make a donation in lieu of flowers, Barry was a supporter of the Red Cross and their dedicated and ongoing efforts to assist those affected by wildfires in British Columbia.

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