COLUMN: Alastair Munro

As we all grow up and work our way through school, we rarely develop any meaningful attachment with the Principal of any school.  The Principal is always that ominous figure whose scowl is eerily reminiscent of the dad from that 1990’s TV show, The Wonder Years.  I spent more time than I likely should have in the Principal’s office during my time at Kars Public School and Rideau Valley Middle School so I got to know these individuals quite well.

One such Principal that I got to know in my time at Kars Public School was much different than any other I’ve ever had.  Instead of yelling and punishing for any wrongdoings, he would always give me that “you should know better” lecture and the dreadful “I’m disappointed in you” look.  He was my Principal when I was 5 until I turned 8 and his name was Alastair Munro, or Mr. Munro, as I knew him then.

I was going through some old things this past week and I came across a lot of old report cards with Mr. Munro’s name on them.  I found a letter he wrote to my parents when I was in grade 3 saying that I was “creating a disturbance by distracting the bus driver.”  While I may not have been the most behaved little guy on the bus, there is some irony to this letter.  The driver of the bus was a gentleman by the name of Chris Rybiak, whose wife, Brenda, currently lives in North Gower.  Fast forward 20 years, and both Alastair Munro and Brenda Rybiak had Scott Moffatt signs on their lawn, so I guess my bus misbehaviour didn’t do any long term damage, thankfully.  Another thing I came across was an old tie that Mr. Munro gave me when I was in grade 2.  As troublesome as I was in grade 3, I was equally nerdy in grade 2 constantly wearing dress shirts, ties, and sweater vests to school.  Looking back, it was clear I was pretty cool.  Noticing my affinity for ties, Mr. Munro gave me one of his ties and I’ve kept it to this day, a black and red paisley tie that finally fits me.

In 2006, I got to know Mr. Munro again, but this time, as Alastair.  Alastair was incredibly positive and excited that I was running for City Council back then.  If you ever spent any time around this man, you couldn’t help but smile.  His attitude was contagious and his dedication to community was outstanding.  Nearly a lifelong resident of Richmond, he put a lot of dedicated volunteer hours into the community he loved, primarily as a member of the Richmond Lions.  He was one of the first calls I made when I was planning my campaign for 2010 and my booth at the Richmond Fair.  It was at this time that I discovered Alastair was ill and wouldn’t be able to make it to the Fair that year.  Knowing that he was so strong and passionate about life, I figured he would just fight off any illness and be back in no time.  The 2011 Richmond Fair rolled around and I was excited to run into Alastair once again as he greeted me with his contagious smile.  I’m lucky to have known such a positive individual, someone that taught me many things as a kid and as an adult.

It was with sadness that I learned that Alastair passed away last week at the age of 70.  Having attended his service on Monday, it was clear that he not only touched my life but the lives of many, many more.  From the teachers he worked with and the students in his schools to his neighbours along the Richmond Road and his beloved family, Alastair left behind so many glowing memories for all of us to remember him by for years to come.  The world you leave behind is made better because of the time you were here.  Thanks Alastair.