Kenneth Sunquist was a long-standing member of TFO Canada Board of Directors. His knowledge, expertise, kindness and caring will be missed.
It is with love and profound sadness that we mourn the death of Ken Sunquist. Husband, father, brother, grandfather, diplomat, board member, mentor and dear friend, he died peacefully at Ottawa General Hospital on Wednesday June 8, 2022.
His kindness, generosity and questionable sense of humour will be deeply missed by his wife, Carolyn, sons Stephen and Sean, and daughters-in-law Susan and Kate, and their children Kira, Trevlyn and Elliott. His younger sister, Susan and brother, Tim, along with their families will mourn his loss as well.
Son of Ed and Diana Sunquist, born in Winnipeg at the end of mosquito season in 1948, he grew up in almost every small town across western Canada, but found his true home when he married Carolyn Darke, the love of his life, in February of 1971. Ken graduated from University of Saskatchewan, Regina campus with a B.Admin, and later with a Masters in Public Admin from Golden Gate University.
Ken had been in the ROTP Royal Canadian Navy, then worked at the office of the Premier of Saskatchewan, and Revenue Canada before accepting his dream job with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (then known as Industry, Trade and Commerce …. friends from DFAIT, GAC, etc. know the truth of the Bards words – a rose by any other name…). Working on the Trade side, Ken and Carolyn traveled the world, with postings to Jamaica, Yugoslavia, United States (San Francisco), back to Ottawa, then off to the far east with stints in South Korea, China (as Chargé d’affairs), then as Canada’s Ambassador to Indonesia. Returning to Ottawa, he completed his career as Canada’s Chief Trade Commissioner, and ADM for Africa and Asia. In retirement Ken translated lessons learned from his 37 years as a public servant into further work as a passionate member on the boards of directors for CARE Canada, FITT, TFO, CCC and as an adjunct professor for his alma mater, the University of Regina (honorary PhD, recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award) and the University of Alberta, Canada-China Institute. In these endeavors he found new avenues to explore and greatly enjoyed the opportunity to both learn and teach.
While he was an unrepentant work-a-holic, Ken truly loved the people he worked with – many colleagues became lifelong friends, and he felt privileged to share their company in Ottawa, Saskatchewan, and around the globe. Ken happily spent many a dinner regaling friends and family with tales – often funny, moving or inspirational – of the work situations and personalities he surrounded himself with.
Ken and Carolyn spent years, and earned many of their grey hairs, renovating the family cottage in Saskatchewan, and it was there he found his greatest peace and enjoyment. Shortly after retirement, he learned about flooding the hard way in 2011 and 2013, but also gained an extended family as the wonderful community of B-Say-Tah fought to protect their homes and cottages. A voracious reader, he could be found at any time of day with a book in hand. He and Carolyn loved spending evenings gazing across the lake at the stunning prairie sunsets, chatting with neighbors, and most of all, playing with his grandchildren. As a husband, father, grandfather, friend, and in so many other capacities, he was truly a kind and compassionate man, and he will be sorely missed.
A Celebration of Ken’s life will occur on Wednesday June 15, 2022, at Beechwood Funeral, Cemetery and Cremation Services (280 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa) at 1300. For those who are unable to attend in person, please visit www.beechwoodottawa.ca to preregister for a live stream of the Service. There will be a second Celebration this summer in Saskatchewan. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to CARE Canada, the Canadian Liver Foundation, or the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.