The story behind the Leslie Anne Whitcutt Memorial Bursary

What would you do if you saw a legally blind student wandering around campus in the early 1970s? If you were Walter Gage, you would go out of your way to engage and regularly meet with her for breakfast or coffee until graduation. In 1973, the student Leslie Anne Whitcutt graduated with a B.A. at age nineteen.

Unfortunately Leslie died soon after graduating. Deeply saddened by the loss, Walter received permission from her parents to set up a foundation to honour this extraordinary young woman.

A $450 bursary has been endowed as a memorial to Leslie Anne Whitcutt (B.A., UBC, 1973) by her parents to provide financial assistance for blind students who require special equipment related to their studies.

Leslie had no idea that the faculty member who befriended her was a Dean – he was just “Walter.” It’s just another shining example how Walter Gage quietly and humbly went about enhancing the life of anyone he befriended.

Listen to the interview that Michael Davies recorded with Leslie’s mother Ollie (Olga) Whitcutt.

2018 January 17

I bring sad news. Ollie Whitcutt died at 3pm yesterday afternoon. She had been in Vancouver General Hospital for about a week following a fall, but was with her daughter and peaceful when she passed away.

I was with Ollie on Saturday and shared the Vancouver Sun page about her daughter with her. She was delighted. I had no inkling that she was so frail- my worry was whether she would make the book launch on Feb 15.

Ollie (who was in her mid eighties) was a strong smart prairie girl who ended here by accident on her way to Australia. She and my wife Sandra were long time colleagues in Canadian music education.  Together they organized several national,  international and provincial music educators conferences. Ollie and her husband Hugh were also outstanding bridge players and teachers. She will be remembered, above all,by generations of Vancouver students who were lucky enough to take music with her in school .

With regrets- Michael Davies