The school was informed by OW Simon Lindley that sadly Barry passed away on 25 May. His son Joshua provided the following obituary.
Barry Lyndon was born in Sanderstead, Surrey, on 28 October 1930. He was the second son of Southern Irish parents. Between the ages of four and six he attended the local Montessori School, succeeded by two years as Cumnor House Preparatory School in Croydon.
During these early years, from the age of four, he followed his older brother, Patrick, with daily 6am piano practice, entering local music festivals and achieving distinction at grade five at the age of eight when, after having played with his brother at the Wigmore Hall, he declared that he had had enough of concert playing and daily practice. This early decision was characteristic of his independence of spirit.
Barry was a chorister in the choir of Magdalen College in Oxford and a schoolboy at Magdalen College School (MCS) from 1939 to 1947.
He was a gifted athlete, a middle-distance runner, soccer player and swimmer and he represented the school in hockey and tennis. He went on to perform at senior level in hockey. At age 13 and 15, he and his older brother were out on the golf course on D-Day trying to focus on their driving, whilst, hour after hour, enormous fleets of war planes thundered overhead.
From MCS, Barry followed his father’s directive into the hotel business and trained at Westminster Technical College. Impressions of what he learned there under his instructors lasted well into his final years.
It was therefore natural, when Barry was called upon for National Service from October 1949 to October 1951, that he chose the Royal Army Catering Corps, becoming commissioned and, before long, taking charge of catering at a very large unit in Arborfield in Berkshire. The French catering term mise en place (putting in place) was beloved by him and his organizing ability, attention to detail and polite, patient formality were to be exercised subsequently at Claridge’s Hotel in London, Hôtel de la Paix, Lausanne, and the Ritz-Carlton in Montreal, where he met his future wife, Hessie.
They married on 10 January 1958, settling at Homestead Court hotel in Welwyn Garden City, where Barry was manager. The birth of their older son, Mark, followed on 21 March 1960 and their younger son, Piers (now Joshua) on 5 July 1961. (Both also went on to attend MCS following their father and uncle.) In 1965, Barry responded to a call from his schoolboy organ tutor, Sir William McKie (MVO), to help with the administration of the Royal College of Organists, which was then headquartered in Kensington Gore, London. As Clerk to the Royal College of Organists, Barry quickly moved to the hub of the College’s affairs. No one escaped his pervasive and meticulous influence on its activities – and his editorial control over its published outputs – from 1965 until his ‘retirement’ in 1990. For his services he was awarded an MBE and the composer William Matthias composed a retirement piece –Fanfare for KBL – in his honour.
Retirement was not really a possibility for Barry. He went on to work ‘part-time’ for the Ouseley Trust, founded by Sir Frederick Ouseley as a charity ‘to promote and maintain to a high standard the choral services of the Church of England, the Church in Wales and the Church in Ireland’.
Since his bona fide retirement in 1996 Barry continued an active interest as an Old Waynflete of Magdalen College School and was a member of The Organ Club, The Prayer Book Society etc. He loved his English heritage and its traditions. Heraldry fascinated him and he was always avid to set pen to paper to be the first to congratulate those he knew who had received recognition in the Queen’s honours lists. Likewise, he stood by the traditions of the English Public School, English cathedral music, The King James Bible and The 1662 Book of Common Prayer. He was a Church of England Christian throughout his life and a very English Englishman.
Sadly, from 2005 a relatively rare bone marrow disorder called Myelodysplasia took an increasing toll on his energies. Complications arising from a routine cataract operation on his left eye in April 2014 led, through a series of after-effects, to his death from aspiration pneumonia in the Intensive Care Unit of the Lister Hospital on Sunday 25 May 2014.
When he retired from the RCO, Barry gave an address based on an allegory he had read called ‘The Indispensable Man’. In it he referred to an image of placing one’s hand into a pail of water. The hole that is left in the body of water when one has withdrawn one’s hand is how indispensable you are to the organisation you have chosen to serve.
He was a loyal servant to many and he executed his duties with style; finesse and a wry sense of humour. In going through some of his paperwork since his death, I came across an end paragraph in a letter to a solicitor – ‘You can safely guarantee that both my death and Hessie’s will occur either on a weekend or a Bank Holiday’. He died on the second May Bank Holiday weekend.
His own pre-written words regarding his death were characteristically brief and self-effacing. They appeared as follows in the deaths column of the Telegraph 28 May 2014:
LYNDON. – KENNETH BARRY,
Husband of Hessie, Father of Mark and Joshua. On Sunday 25 May 2014, aged 83. No Funeral. He gave his body to medical science.
Unfortunately, this last intention could not be honoured. Barry was cremated at Enfield Crematorium on Monday 9 June 2014.