James (Jim) Christopher Barber, affectionately known as “Bruno” among family, died peacefully on Friday May 4, 2012, after a long journey with prostate cancer.
Jim was born in Eastbourne, England, on Oct. 8, 1927, the youngest of 5 children. He lived briefly in France, then his family moved to Jersey, Channel Islands. In 1939, his family moved to Bermuda to escape the impending war.
Jim first attended a boarding school in Eastbourne at the tender age of 8. When his family moved to Bermuda in 1939, he briefly attended a local school, but soon was sent to Trinity College School in Toronto, Canada, for high school. Upon graduation, he continued his post-secondary studies at the University of Toronto, and completed his Degree in Political Science and Economics in 1950. In 1951, he began his Vancouver marine insurance underwriting career and in 1965 he joined Coast Underwriters. Jim was highly respected in the marine insurance industry, named “The Leading Underwriter “ and also earned an Honorary Lifetime Membership of the Association of Marine Underwriters of British Columbia in 1981.
Jim met his wife Ann Hamilton, from Nelson, BC, in a University of Toronto snowbank . When asked recently, he admitted quite humorously they started courting immediately. They married on Sept. 15, 1951, in Nelson, BC. They had 4 children, and raised their family in West Vancouver, BC. Jim worked hard to provide a rich life for his family, timeless summers were spent on Kootenay Lake, and winters were filled with ski trips up Grouse and Whistler Mountains. Their house on St. George’s Cres. in Gleneagles was the gathering spot for family and the irrepressibly fun “English relations”. After their move to Salt Spring, Easter was the big affair with Easter egg hunts and grandchildren in the spring garden. Christmases and Thanksgivings were celebrated with family around their bountiful and delicious table. Jim was preceded in death by his daughter, Suzanne. He is mourned by his family, wife Ann, and children Tony and Ivana (Jackie and Alex), Brian (Thomas, Samantha and Madeline) and Jennifer and Mitch (Pippa, Simon, Daniel and Robyn.) He has one great-grandson, Tallis (Jackie and Ben.)
Jim loved to play soccer while at U of T, and was proudly nicknamed “Twinkle Toes” after scoring 5 goals in one game. He coached boys’ soccer in West Van in the 60s. He was also very involved in the Anglican Church in West Vancouver at both St. Stephen’s then St. Francis-in-the Wood. Dad loved to play “snooker” at the Terminal City Club during his lunch hours, and squash and tennis on weekends, and was at one time the Pacific Northwest’s squash champ. He also loved his garden, growing delicious veggies and beautiful flowers. Jim and Ann both enjoyed skiing, hiking, traveling, reading, entertaining and being entertained. They enjoyed sharing their lives with their furry friends, dogs Timmy, gentle Maggi, wonderful Chelsea, and feisty Penzy.
After semi-retirement in 1987, Jim and Ann moved to Salt Spring Island, where both deepened their involvement with the Anglican Church, and made a whole new group of wonderful friends. Jim was groundskeeper of the new All Saints by the Sea, and helped design the beautiful garden. He also started a lunch tradition at Calvin’s with a group of close Anglican friends. Jim and Ann joined the Trail and Nature Club, where Jim was Chair of the club for some time. He was also a member of 2 local groups, the infamous SSI “Eggheads” where he enjoyed lively conversations of current affairs and politics with interesting company. He also enjoyed John Mills’ private study group.
Jim suffered a debilitating stroke in 2001, but successfully recovered to enjoy life once more, but at a slower tempo. His involvement with sports was a decidedly armchair affair. Tennis and soccer matches, hockey games and the Olympics, took on new importance. In his last weeks, his love of competition remained strong, he could still manage a mean game of Checkers and Rummy. “Twinkle Toes” kept in step with his walker up and down the Lady Minto Hospital corridors right up to his last 2 weeks.
Jim was a study in stoicism, keeping his sense of humour, gentle manners, and love of life intact right up to his last days. We are so proud of him.
We wish to thank all the wonderful committed friends, who made lunches, brought fresh flowers, grapes, beer, newspapers, ice cream and conversation, and provided trips to church, Calvin’s and dinners out, to make his last days so satisfying and meaningful. Also heartfelt thanks to Dr. Woodley, and the wonderful nursing staff at Lady Minto, you all brightened our days.
The service for Jim will be held at All Saints by the Sea Anglican Church on Salt Spring Island, BC, on Friday, May 25th at 2:30 pm.
In lieu of flowers, may we suggest donations to the BC Prostate Cancer Foundation or your favorite charity.