I cannot begin to express my sadness at learning of the death, today, of former Hamilton Mayor Jack MacDonald. While he served as Mayor before I was even born, he had a great impact upon me.
I first met Jack as a teenager when I spoke at the then-Hamilton East Kiwanis service club at the seemingly tender age of 15.
I remember how scared I was speaking and how timidly I presented my story. I was somewhat shy at the time.
I remember how making a point of approaching me afterwards and remarking how moved he was by my speech.
That was the start of a mentoring relationship that lasted to this day.
It says something about my mentors that only three years later – at age 18 – I was a serious contender in the municipal elections of 2000.
Over the years, Jack stayed in touch with me and always gave me encouragement in my endeavors.
Last year, he was one of the people that offered support as I dealth with a series of personal challenges.
Only recently (last Winter), when I decided to start pursuing getting into The Hamilton Spectator, Jack was there again offering advice and encouragement.
During our last encounter, he made a point of telling me that I was welcome at his place anytime.
Ironically, I walked on his street earlier today and thought about that offer.
Jack and I had different political philosophies. We often had heated disagreements over public policy but never did he become upset about those disagreements.
His assistance over the years – especially during my political run – advanced my ideas. That did not matter to Jack. He was committed to helping others his entire life and never lost sight of that overriding goal.
I was going to call Jack over the next few days and tell him about my success in securing The Spectator internship. I know he would have given me great advice and congratulate me on the position.
Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to do so. (I cannot help but be reminded how short our time here truly is)
Hamilton has suffered a great lost today. I mourn for both Jack and my city.