“We missed Jack and Joan at the last few gatherings of our AALP colleagues. We knew he was not well. His death should not have come as a shock. But still, his passing caught us off guard and leaves a void in our hearts.”

In the early 1980s Jack was seconded from his position in OMAF to travel across the U.S. learning about the most successful of their agricultural leadership programs. Back home in Guelph he and Doug Pletsch put together a curriculum to meet the needs of leaders in Ontario agriculture. In 1984 the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP) was announced and recruiting for the first class began. Class One of this innovative new program ran from 1985 to 1987 with Jack as Executive Director and Doug as Curriculum Coordinator.

Part way through Class One Jack had an opportunity to return to a new position in OMAF. He would remain as Executive Director until the completion of Class One, but he needed an assistant. That’s where I came in. Then, at the beginning of Class Two, I was appointed Executive Director. Doug remained as Curriculum Coordinator.

I knew of Jack’s reputation and what big shoes I would have to fill. I was soon to learn that in Jack and Doug I had the best possible mentors, coaches, cheerleaders and friends to help me grow into the role. I am so thankful for that amazing opportunity.

Very early in my time with OMAF, before AALP, I was at meeting with Jack on a Friday afternoon. I mentioned that our younger daughter was at home getting ready for her high school prom. “Well what are you doing here?” he asked. “Go on home. You should be there helping her.”

Several years later I was lamenting the fact that our older daughter, who was travelling in India, had been away over Christmas, that I had missed her terribly, and that I would give my eye teeth to see her. “What’s stopping you?” asked Jack. Until that moment it had never occurred to me that I might actually go to India. But a few months later there I was, back packing in Kerala with Kathy and her friend.

For me these two memories capture the essence of Jack. Jack was a ‘people person’ – kind and caring and able to bring out the best in each of us. Family came first; he was proud of Joan’s accomplishments and of his four children. He loved his grand and great-grandchildren.

It was a privilege to work with Jack, to learn from him, to call him friend.

by Pat Mighton, Ontario Agriculture Hall of Fame Inductee