A longtime Burnaby volunteer who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in the fall has moved to hospice.
It’s unknown how much time Ken Ryan, also known as the ‘King of Kensington’ around town, has left, but he’s in good spirits, according to family friend Shirley Hatch.
“He’s still trying to make the best of the days he has. He’ll have a lot of good days, but he’ll have some bad days, too,” she told the NOW. “His wit is all there. He’ll come with the comebacks real quick.”
Ryan, 75, has dedicated the majority of his life to giving back to his community.
Among his laundry list of accomplishments, he founded the Kensington Community Fair in 1993. He also sat on numerous committees, including the Burnaby North Community Association, anti-graffiti, Comshare, Hats Off Day, the Optimist Club, Coats for Kids, Block Watch and many more.
For two decades, Ryan put on the big, red suit and was Santa for the kids at the Lochdale Community School. He also helped fund the school’s seniors’ tea and pancake breakfast. During the summer, he’d run Comshare, a children’s summer camp that featured sports, cooking, crafts and day trips.
Ryan was also the one who organized Kool Down, a free swim for teens on Friday nights at the Kensington pool. At Christmastime, he and his wife Lou would provide food hampers to needy families. Ryan also helped start up the food bank at Confederation Centre about 15 years ago, which has since moved to St. Timothy’s Anglican Church.
The couple are the type of people to take in strangers who have nowhere to go. One fellow in particular stayed with the Ryans for three years until he was able to get back on his feet.
Ryan, who received the Queen Elizabeth II Gold Jubilee medal for his volunteer efforts, was given the cancer diagnosis in September after going to the hospital for shortness of breath. He was given the OK to move home and have a nurse drop in.
He moved to Crossroads Inlet Centre Hospice in Port Moody on Dec. 8.
“At first, I was really depressed because I’m thinking this means he’s going to be gone shortly, but he’s lasted a couple weeks now,” said Hatch. “It’s such a peaceful, loving place.”
To ease the financial burden on the Ryans, Hatch has started a GoFundMe page.
“We want to try to help him with the costs because he has to pay hospice and rent for their basement suite, and (Lou’s) going to have the funeral expense coming up,” she said.
Hatch noted Ryan plans to be cremated and have his ashes stored in a Nabob coffee can.
“That has been his thing. I said, ‘It’s going to take more than one coffee can.’ He goes ‘OK, I got three of them reserved for that,’” she said with a laugh. “They drink Nabob coffee, and he just felt that he didn’t need an urn.”