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Our Man, Dan Lee

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Sometimes I wonder why we human beings wait until someone passes away to acknowledge how much that person meant to us, did for us, inspired us and cared for us.  When someone passes I am always reminded that that it is the small things that they did in their life that make a big difference in the end.  How they treated people is what is remembered.  And not all of us are meant to do huge things, but we are meant to bring a huge heart to work that we do.  Everyone makes an impact and it all makes a difference.   Actions speak 10 times louder than anything else.   I recently attended an impromptu gathering for a teacher, Dan Lee, who taught at Stuart Baker Elementary (grade 2 french immersion) for over 10 years and at Wilberforce for a few years before that. Prior he had taught up in the Northwest Territories. Dan was in his second year of retirement when he passed suddenly.   Dan’s wife, Willy, isn’t ready to have a service for him  yet and so a group of teachers got together to plan a small celebration of his life.  Dan loved to meet for a beer at McKecks on Fridays, after school, and so it was appropriate to hold the gathering there.  Teachers, parents and friends stood to tell the most heart warming stories of a man who consistently and quietly cared for the young kids he taught and for the staff he worked with.     He was the master of small things that make a big difference.   He was Santa Clause for the students and the teachers.  What stood out for me about the stories of Dan was that he sustained doing lots of really thoughtful things over many years.  He had rituals regarding birthdays and supporting school events that he maintained his entire teaching career.  He constantly looked for the quiet ways that he could inject support into whatever was going on.  Dan loved to sing and dance with the kids, he cooked for the staff and  he quietly inspired the love of the french language. He wrote poems for people, he made killer fudge, he loved to dance, he celebrated students birthdays all year long, he noticed when someone was struggling and stepped into help.  He never raised his voice with the kids he taught. He was a really good friend.  He was kind.  He taught many of our young children in our community and he loved them.  So teachers, parents of kids and friends gathered and raised a glass over and over to a man who made everyone feel important. And it made a big difference.   “That was Our Man, Dan Lee”.

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