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Danny McLeod – Two years gone, still much remembered

Danny McLeod – Two years gone, still much remembered

By: WJO

In his day, Danny McLeod (‘The Maj’) was larger than life.

You will often hear people say that they don’t want to live in the past. But I think that, more often than not, we all want to live at least a little bit in the past.

I find this especially true with Ex Cadets. I don’t know any of the ‘buds’ that can’t recall with great detail their personal ‘ups & downs’ during recruit term – now known as First Year Orientation Period (FYOP). And most remember, much more during their time on the peninsula.

Ask any ‘high-performance athlete’ about a particular important win – or even a key loss from years ago. They still think about ‘it’. If you don’t relate to this – perhaps you were never a ‘high performance athlete’. Just sayin’.

I believe that I’m like a whole lot of people. I try to not live in the past but I certainly think a lot of the past.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot of my friend, Danny McLeod, who passed away two years ago. 14 January 2014 to be exact.

Hundreds of mourners – among them were many Ex Cadets and his legions of friends paid their respects at a local funeral home and attended the funeral.

What made Danny so special to those who flocked to bid him farewell – and to those many others who had him in their thoughts and prayers two years ago – was his constant and unwavering concern for his family, friends (and he had many) and, in particular, the Royal Military College of Canada.

Everyone who knew ‘The Maj’ recognized that he was passionate about a lot of things but especially the college.

A highly successful former Director of Athletics, Danny saw far beyond the mere statistics of sports competition. Long after he retired and up until his last year, he still spent countless hours mentoring, counseling, encouraging and, occasionally, chastising RMC student-athletes, coaches and Ex Cadets on aspects of life well beyond the playing field or arena.

Right to the end, he didn’t sugar coat anything.

Going through some old files last week I came across a number of interesting papers and reports written by Ex Cadets ‘about’ Danny a few years ago. These were all written BEFORE he died – For the sake of brevity, I’ve extracted just a few lines from each text.

A few words to express the thoughts of many…

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“Building on the strong athletic RMC tradition, Danny developed a remarkably broad and well integrated athletic program during the ensuing ten years. This was not easily achieved and I well remember the vigorously expressed points of view which were exchanged at Faculty Board meetings whenever athletic and academic requirements vied for precious academic time.”.

H2859 John (Jack) Pike

**

“Danny McLeod became an RMC legend almost from the moment he appeared at RMC. We cadets were awed by his wartime record, a record that was elaborated and perhaps even embellished in the stories we passed on to our juniors. It may have been that combination of human approachability with an aura of mythical accomplishment that made the McLeod presence at RMC so remarkable.

Long after Danny has ceased to be active as a player, an organizer or an administrator of athletics; he continues to personify these qualities, a vivid symbol of the finest virtues this college holds dear”.

5992 Jim Barrett

**

“It would be difficult to overstate the contribution he made to the College athletic program and, indeed, to Canadian University athletics during that time.”

6014 Fred Sutherland

**

“Danny, lived, breathed and slept RMC. He pushed himself and all those around him for the betterment of the college. His motto was simple “Good for the College Good for Canada…… As my coach and mentor, he instilled life lessons that have been absolutely indispensable in my 53 years of service to the public.”

6508 John Adams

**

“His commitment to the college and cadets was second to none”

H7543 Joe Day

**

“His career in sports has consistently reflected the qualities of Truth, Duty and Valour in his personal and professional life both to Canada and the international sports community”

7855 Paul Hession

**

“..’Maj McLeod proudly represents his long time association with the College whenever he travels around the country to deliver presentations or receive honour; he exemplifies the best values of RMC and all aspects of Truth, Duty, and Valour in his personal and professional life.”

12192 Tom Lawson

“The current basic structure of the RMC athletic department and program has endured since being put in place by Danny McLeod on his arrival as Director of Athletics in 1960”

14080 Andy Scott

**

“…we owe pretty much everything we have to the firm guiding hand exercised by ‘The Maj’ in our formative years. We will follow him anywhere, and never forget the lessons earned.”

8074 Doug Smith

**

Danny, very sincere thanks for the memories  that would not have been there without you, the challenging yet pleasant times in competition, your absolute readiness to help and unwavering support in many difficult situations, and in more recent years your friendship.”

5780 Bernie Laliberté

**

“…your incredible vigour and leadership continues to be an influence.”

5337 Bob Carr

**

“The Major’s dedication, enthusiasm and professional approach to the Department’s many responsibilities and challenges were infectious and was reflected in the high morale and camaraderie of his staff of Army, Navy and Air force Physical training Instructors”

Jim Gebhardt – longtime friend

As previously mentioned, these 12 expressions of respect were spoken well before Danny passed away.  They were just a few of the dozens we could have chosen from our files.

In short, “The Maj’ lived the RMC motto of “Truth, Duty, Valour” in his life, and in his spirit. Keep him on your mind, especially this thursday 14 January.

2 Comments

  • 8060 Harry Mohr

    January 11, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Jim,

    Thanks for the reminder and keeping the torch aflame. The class of 69 had a special relationship with the Maj, as many will know.Some of us continue to toast his contribution to our lives at our annual golf get-together. TDV.

    8060 Harry Mohr

  • Mike Kennedy

    January 11, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    A personal recollection of Major Danny McLeod:

    Readers of e-Veritas might remember my article “The Greatest Generation”, originally published in the print edition of Veritas in the summer of 2005, and later featured in the January 14, 2014 edition of e-Veritas. The article was basically some perspectives on the Second World War, as seen through the eyes of four members of the RMC community who saw combat in it. One of those was Major Danny McLeod.

    There is another part to this story that might be worth sharing at time, as we mark the occasion of his passing.

    On the first weekend of November 2005, not long after I wrote the original version of the article, I brought a group of martial artists to the College for a visit. One of the things that made that weekend a memorable occasion was that it was the time at which I was reunited with my former instructor, Sensei Wayne Donivan, who became a very important person in my life in the difficult days that immediately followed my departure from RMC in 1977.

    Looking back on that time, it would probably be no exaggeration to say that I might not be alive today, had it been for Sensei Donivan’s efforts on my behalf. As they say, time supposedly heals all wounds, but it does not erase memories. It was wonderful to be able to be reunited with my former teacher and mentor – at the College of all places – and we have remained in close touch ever since then.

    One of the other highlights of that weekend took place on Saturday at lunch, when Major Danny McLeod came out to Yeo Hall to address the group. None of it realized it at the time, but the day when he spoke to us – November 5, 2005 – was his 84th birthday. Notwithstanding his advancing years, I can still see him standing in front of us, straight as a ramrod, sharp as a tack, and proudly wearing his Second World War medals and College blazer.

    What I remember most, however, was the short but compelling speech he gave to the group who were assembled. While I cannot recall his remarks word for word, what I do remember very vividly was the passion and conviction with which he addressed us. Unfailingly modest as always, when making reference to the incident that won him the Military Cross, he said that “I did not knock out that tank, the gunners knocked it out.” And when talking about the College and what it is really all about, he summed it all up in simple but nonetheless eloquent and beautiful terms, “There is no I, me, mine. There is only us, we, ours.”

    That was the one and only time that I ever met Major McLeod in person, but even on that very brief occasion, he made an impression that was truly unforgettable. He was a guy only about the same height that I am, but clearly in his heart and soul a giant among men, and someone who guided and shaped an entire generation of young cadets who passed through the College during his time. He may not have been an Ex-Cadet himself, but he without any doubt the kind of leader to epitomized the best of the best of what the College stands for.

    To those of us who had the privilege of knowing him – however briefly – we will miss Danny McLeod dearly. But we will never forget him, or the impact he had on our lives.

    Truth, Duty, Valour !

    Mike #12570