I was at my former high school’s annual school play the other night and memories came flooding back of the shows I did in high school. And, of course, when you think of previous shows you did, you might remember your directors and those who helped put on those shows.
When I think back to my shows, one person in particular stands out. That person would be Gary.
In grade ten, I wasn’t even considering joining my school’s drama program. I didn’t have anything against the program, a lot of my friends were in it, I just didn’t think it was for me. However, the theatre program was putting on “The Very Great Grandson of Sherlock Holmes”, a hilarious parody on Sherlock Holmes where his grandson is a bumbling idiot.
This show needed a butler and, being my teacher, Gary knew me somewhat well and thought I fit the role very well. The Butler was a character who had every line come out witty, sarcastic, and sharp.
After some thinking, I decided to go for it. I thought the drama program would be “something fun to do.” I did not realize how much it would mean to me throughout the rest of my high school life.
Since I was the only one going directly for The Butler, I got it. However, Gary was right and I fit the role very well -- the snappy comebacks, the hilarious one liners, and the dripping sarcasm is exactly my type of humour. The production was a success and I was hooked on the drama program.
I went on to play in two more shows under the direction of Gary. I was Mr. Drysdale in “The Beverly Hillbillies” and Professor Dante in “Get Smart.”
He was also a teacher for a good chunk of my classes from grades 7-10. Sure, he had his fair share of students that didn’t like him but he developed a very strong bond with a lot of his students, and a lot of the grades below me especially came to really like him.
The year after I graduated, which was 2013, Gary moved away to teach at another school. Many of his students were saddened -- he had not only been an amazing teacher, but also even a friend to his students. He had visited a former student when he was in the hospital, and just had a general love for all his students, both current and former.
It was late March of 2015 when he started to have some health concerns, he had something from when he was younger that had never caused issues until that point.
In the coming weeks, he would be admitted to hospital. On April 15, he passed.
The students from school were devastated. I heard from younger students and friends with younger siblings what a weird and scary day of school that was. The halls were eerily silent and people were crying. There was an outpouring of love and support for his mother and fiancé in the coming days and the students and teachers watched a livestream of his memorial service in the gymnasium.
Being at my old high school’s play brought back these memories, and it was there that I realized that not only had it been three years but I missed the actual date. I’m so glad I was reminded of this yet again.
Gary drew me into the school’s theatre program. He was a great director, teacher, and an all-around great person who was easy to connect to. He is still greatly missed by many.