Iconic people challenge us to do things we might not have ever thought we could achieve. Mr. Kelso, Mrs. Carey, and the entire English department have supported many, many wobbly-kneed students to stand right here and deliver beautiful speeches to their peers and others.
Iconic people create fun and tradition, and we feel them enjoy our presence. Mr. Maxwell’s Mini-World Cup will stand as one of the most spirited days in our annual cycle, all because he wills it to be so.
Iconic people take us to places we never imagined; stretch our understanding of the world. The gift of the Senegal Trip is deeply embedded in many of you thanks to Mr. Tessier, and travelling to the heart of NYC and the chambers of the UN with Mr. St-Amant will not be forgotten by any of the MUN participants.
None of these things HAVE to happen. BCS operates without these great events but we are so much richer, more interesting, more meaningful because they do happen.
You know your icons; don’t forget to thank them. Of course there were icons who came before ours. I’m going to ask you to imagine with me now—actually close your eyes and imagine with me—two of the truly great icons in the past century of BCS. Keep your eyes closed and see if you can picture this man…
He’s not tall, maybe 5’8’’, but he walks quickly and always with a purpose. Even from the far side of campus, you knew it was him as soon as you saw him due to the way he walked. Also making him easily recognizable in the winter, was that he always, always—for 30 years ALWAYS—was seen with the same purple- and white-striped scarf, funny-looking hat, and stained parka. The ensemble was almost as iconic and recognizable as School House.
Without thinking about it, you knew he represented so much; so much that you yourself hoped you might represent some day. For one thing, he was as much of a family man as you had ever witnessed. He adored his wife and she him, and they just worked together in a peaceful, happy, mutually-beneficial way that you knew (you hoped) you would also go find some day. His kids adored him and he them. They played together. If you had the honour of being on his First Team Hockey squad, then you feared him a little bit too. Nobody had ever asked more or gotten more out of you. His rules were simple: if you had a job to do, you did it. A refrain of his that will always remain in your head—in fact you recite it at times when you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or overmatched: “It’s not the size of the person in the fight that counts. It’s the size of the fight in the person.”
He had a colleague, and a friend, who was here for a few more years—34 in fact. And they were friends (at least I like to assume they were) not because they worked with kids in the same way, had the same hobbies, or taught in the same department, but because of a deep respect rooted in the fact they both found their own ways to give unselfishly to kids. They were both hearing the same calling and each responding in their own way. That is a foundation of respect and appreciation.
Whenever this second man’s name comes up, people instantly say, “Smith House.” For more than 20 years he presided over Smith House, and it was known as a house of dominance in winter carnival and other activities—at least in their own eyes! It was universally known as a place where you followed the rules, and if you didn’t, don’t even TRY lying about it because ‘The Ogre’ would see right through you! That was his nickname and all recall it was as lovingly adorned as The Cobra is in our present day lingo.
He was endeared and also marveled at; he was a true life-long learner who found ways to reinvent himself. He was the head of the French department and one year he required the entire department to take a Russian course at BU because he wanted to ensure that he and his colleagues understood and felt the challenge of learning a new language. He was involved with drama and ran the library for a number of years, creating safe places for kids to come together and feel the security of home. Later in life he lived at the Grace Village Home in Waterville. Any of our students who visited him there over the last two school years can attest that he would absolutely light up when a BCS student in their #1s would enter his room for a visit. I very much enjoyed those visits myself.
You can open your eyes, if you haven’t already. These two men’s names were Mr. Cliff Goodwin and Mr. Ron Owen. Neither of them had the honour of attending BCS as students, but both were recognized as “Honourary Old Boys” for their dedication to students, colleagues, and the school in their time here.
Unfortunately, this past weekend, both of these men passed away. Mr. Goodwin was 76 and Mr. Owen, The Ogre, was 93. A service for Mr. Goodwin will be held on Friday in PEI, which was his home. Mr. Owen’s service will be on Saturday, right here in Lennoxville. So, on Friday and Saturday you will see the BCS flags at half-mast. When you see them, remember the images, the thoughts, the lifetimes of dedication that we are honouring. The flag tribute is nice, but I think that for them, you thinking of them and honouring them is as fine a tribute as we can offer.