I lost a friend recently

Years ago, Jack Hagarty was my Branch Director, early in my career with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. I remember buying a ‘package’ at a Branch staff conference once, for the opportunity to spend the ‘day with the Director’. We set the day and I arrived in Guelph to see and experience ‘what a director does’. Jack ensured I got a taste of it from a variety of perspectives. We travelled to a couple of outside meetings. I got to use his ‘car phone’! We met with head office staff, and I learned about things that I didn’t know about as a staff member of the Rural Organizations and Services Branch. It was a good day, and I came away with a new and better understanding of who Jack Hagarty was, what he did and how he did it.

Times, titles, and roles changed. He retired. I moved on to new opportunities within and outside the Ministry. Jack kept in touch and, when I took over the role as Director of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP), Jack was right there, encouraging me in this new role. I asked him/ he offered to write a history of AALP because he was there at the beginning and had followed and supported my predecessors and the program through the years. I lugged boxes and boxes to and from his garage in Guelph. A comprehensive history of AALP was written, and it remains a testament to his desire to ensure history and facts are accurate and complete.

Time moves on. We kept in touch as a group of AALP leadership directors and met occasionally for a catch- up. His wife Joan was always included in our times together. There was always lots of laughter and memories of times past, both of the program and our time together with OMAF/ OMAFRA.

Time moves on. I was appointed to the Senate of Canada. It was early in those crazy days after the announcement and appointment that I had a message from Jack Hagarty. In his quiet and unassuming way, he congratulated me and indicated he was proud of this latest accomplishment. Thank you, Jack.

True leaders exhibit commitment, passion, and conviction for their fields of work. They also inspire others and are inspired through others. This was Jack to a ‘T’.  For me, I think of him when I read the last lines of the poem “I Went on A Search to Become a Leader”. It reads… “I lead best when I forget about myself as leader and focus on my group, their needs, and their goals. To lead is to serve, to give, to achieve TOGETHER.” This, in my mind was the essence of Jack Hagarty. Thank you for inspiring me, Jack!

Time moves on. I lost a friend recently.

Hon. Rob Black, Senator (Ontario)