H.J. Pat Barron
“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on
– excerpt from “High Flight”,
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
H.J. Pat Barron, born March 12, 1917 in Swansea, South Wales, passed away peacefully on Sunday morning, August 31, 2014 at Dover House in Nanaimo. He is survived by his loving wife Barbara, by his children Deirdre, John, Michael, Patty, Brian, Sheila, Megan, Siobhan, Moira, and Kevin, by his sixteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, along with his cousins in Ireland and extended family in Luxembourg.
Pat’s early life was spent in Ireland. He lived with his grandparents while attending school and it was during those formative years that he developed a passion for justice and fairness. These principles guided his long life and can be summed up by a phrase he often quoted: “Salus populi suprema lex esto”, or in English: “The good of the people is the supreme law”. This motto would underline much of his later interest in provincial and municipal issues.
When the war broke out in 1939, Pat turned his other passion of flying into becoming a bomber pilot for the Royal Air Force (226 B Squadron). He was wounded in action on May 10, 1940, while piloting his bomber aircraft over Luxembourg. For his valour, Pat was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by King George VI, and, in 1994, the town of Mondorf-les-Bains made him an honorary citizen.
During the war Pat and his first wife, Rosemary Tollady, moved to Canada where he trained RCAF pilots in Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec. In 1944, he moved his family (with daughter Deirdre and son John) to San Diego to pursue a career as a commercial pilot. Michael was born soon thereafter.
In La Jolla, California, Pat met and married Barbara, his wife of 64 years. Now licensed as a commercial pilot, he relocated in 1960 to Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg with Barbara and their seven children. They established many lasting friendships there before they departed for Nanaimo in 1968. It was during his time in Nanaimo that Pat and Barbara became very involved in community affairs. He was a founding member of the Nanaimo Concerned Citizens Committee, an organization whose efforts led to the protection of Piper’s Lagoon, the Nanaimo waterfront around Mafeo Sutton Park and Swy-A-Lana Lagoon. He was very passionate about the City of Nanaimo in terms of its planning and development, and preserving aspects of its natural beauty. Pat strongly believed he could make a difference and it was this drive that compelled him to contest mayoralty elections when no one else would. He also served two successive terms on Nanaimo City Council.
Pat lived his life with purpose, intent, and gratitude. He enjoyed discussion and debate, beauty in every form and he would often punctuate an occasion with a quote from a favourite poem, song or scholarly work. He lived a full, active life with enough stories and anecdotes to fill a book, which he did. His memoir, “At the Going Down of the Sun”, was published in August, 2000.
The family wishes to express their deepest gratitude to the amazing staff at Dover House Intermediate Care Facility, where Pat and Barbara have been compassionately cared for during the last six months.
We will all miss him dearly.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
– excerpt from “For the Fallen”, by Robert Laurence Binyon
A funeral mass will be held at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 301 Machleary Street, Nanaimo, B.C., on Saturday, September 13 at 2:00 pm. Reception and refreshments to follow at St. Peter’s Church Hall. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to an environmental charity of your choice.