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Michael Thorpe

Michael Thorpe (Born September 18, 1932 in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK – Died December 2nd, 2018 in Winchester, UK). My father loved Canada; and, despite some difficult years and phases of life in his time there, was hugely fond of Sackville and its community. He will be remembered by colleagues (those with a similar outlook, of course) as a principled, uncompromising and erudite individual. One with a delightful, whimsical sense of humour and a kind, warm heart. I remember as a small child toddling around the garden in his wake as he tended to his beloved flowers and bushes; always a bit lost in his head too (or in a book!) - he may have had hearing problems which got worse with age but hey, part and parcel of that was simply that anyone who knew him realized that his hearing was highly selective. If the conversation strayed too far from serious, intellectually engaging topics – the Second World War, international disasters, trials and tribulations at Mt. A – Dad simply tuned out. No secret to those who were close to him. My mother and I teased him mercilessly about his distractability! It is hard to adequately put into words how rich a life my father (indeed, both of my parents) provided me with growing up. A house filled to the brim with books and art, redolent with culture from BBC dramas to Scandinavian films (yes, this piece is to remember his life, but also to cherish the strong unit the three of us constituted. It’s the way he would have wanted this to read). Profound discussion was the order of the day, as much as an abundance of joy, laughter and whimsy. From my father I learned compassion, humanity, and indeed, how to love. A panoply of gifts to last a lifetime. A couple of years after my mother’s death in 2008, he rekindled a correspondence with Jill Bentley, former flame from his swinging university years in the 50s. I was happy on his behalf that he had found someone to be with (Dad was not one for the single life!), but once Lucy, he and I had packed up the house – his life coming full circle with his return to the UK to be with Jill in Winchester - leaving Canada meant leaving behind so many dear friends. Wayne, Wanda, Ed and Elaine, Jane and Stephen, Thilo and Ute, Amanda and Mark at the Cackling Goose, Christine and Tom (though they themselves had moved from Sackville). Making fresh connections, now retired and in a new place, proved elusive and despite Jill’s company and Lucy’s proximity, an hour away in London, I know he was lonely. Marking correspondence papers for MTA kept him busy for a while but that saving grace ended last year. Dad had not written in the couple of years preceding his death and that greatly saddened me. His life was one – as was my mother’s – of engaging with and mentoring young people and/or producing something creatively. Seeing that fire in him go out was painful. My parents touched the hearts not only of those closest to them, this goes without saying – but those of countless students, often literally changing lives in the process. They were extraordinary people. And my father a loveably eccentric, generous, intense and passionate man. You will be missed Dad. I love you, as we all did.

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