Over 150 friends of Walter Gage gathered at the University Golf Club to celebrate the official launch of the book. Emcee Butch Braidwood read a letter from President Santa Ono who was planning to attend but had to unfortunately sent his apologies at the last moment.
“Walter Gage stands out as an exceptional leader. During my short time as president of UBC I’ve heard more about President Gage than any other president…His memory for student’s names was unsurpassed and is now the stuff of legend. I am regularly stopped by alumni who talk about random acts of kindness that President Gage showed them while they were students at UBC…Known as the Dean of Everything at UBC, Professor Gage will never be forgotten because of the way he made people feel. Thank you Shelley for writing this book and thus preserving the memory of this remarkable man.”
“If I had the opportunity to introduce Walter Gage as a member of the House of Commons, I would have presented him as Walter Gage, enabler.” He explained that his vision of government is one that enables people to do what they wish to achieve and become successful. Walter through his devoted service to the university and contribution to education was the perfect example of what an enabler is and does.
The next guest speaker introduced was BC hereditary chief Bill Wilson. In 1973, he became the second Indigenous person to graduate from UBC’s law school. His humorous story centred around how the law faculty atmosphere back then was way too uptight. So he came up with the idea of arranging a beer bash in the lounge. He was directed to see the Dean Gage to obtain formal approval. Dean Gage’s reply? “Permission granted on one condition – You invite me and we will walk in together.”
Thus enabled by Dean Gage, Bill talked about subsequently co-founding the first annual Tricycle Race at UBC Law, a tradition that continues to this day. Walter understood the importance of balancing hard work in class and social fun with classmates.
Chief Wilson reinforced Preston Manning’s belief that education is the key to enabling one to succeed. He and his wife Bev are very proud that twenty-three university degrees have been earned by his family.
Author Shelley Fralic amused the guests by telling how she was initially “persuaded” by Jim McEwen to be the writer. However, as she began reading the stories and going through the archived material, Shelley realized that that she had never come across a person who was so beloved and held in high esteem by so many. She shared a couple of her favourite stories in the book that captured the essence of Walter Gage as math teacher and as Dean of Everything. Everyone enjoyed hearing her read from the book Bill Wilson’s story about his first encounter in a Math 120 class, a shining example of Walter’s extraordinary ability to remember and connect names and faces.
Since including all collected stories in the book would have been impractical, Shelley recommended that people read each one posted on the companion website. As an indication there are still many stories out there still be be captured, she read a funny story given to her that evening by Bob Duff (BASc 1961).
Special thanks was given by Shelley to Kate Bird for her incredible work digitizing photos and images and to Danny Peart in providing editor support.
In the windup Butch announced that the book is now available at the UBC Bookstore and online from Amazon.ca. By entering a review on the Amazon.ca website, readers can help the book make the Best Seller list.
Thanks go to Tammy Brimner for taking the photos shown in this blog posting. Images can be enlarged by clicking on them.