Danny McLeod – Two years gone, still much remembered
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…
“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.