How he supported/mentored me during my time at UBC

I have two short stories to tell about Walter Gage … about how he supported/mentored me during my time at UBC. And I know, this generosity/wisdom was certainly extended to many other Engineering students.

I got to know Walter when I first got involved with the EUS as 1st Year VP, when he invited old and new EUS executives to the Faculty Club for dinner.

Wow … it was 1970 … I was a new kid from Burnaby, hardly knew anyone … and I was pretty impressed! The next year, as President of the 2nd year class, I once again had many opportunities to meet with and take counsel from this patient and supportive gentleman. Of course, I had not done anything “on the edge” yet …

In my 3rd year of Engineering (Mech), we set about to organize a class trip to California … to visit various companies/organizations like Hewlett Packard, NASA, etc. and have a great “team building” event! I took on the role of fund raiser … though I had no idea of how to do that. Walter was kind enough to suggest some senior contacts in local industry to whom I might speak about sponsorship money. He told me that meeting these folks would be good … to raise money, but also to make future contacts in industry. Interesting … I had no problem accessing very senior execs in industry … go figure?! The advice paid off … we got handily funded for our California trip and when I did finally graduate in 1974, I went to 12 interviews and received 13 job offers! Walter provided me with probably some of the best advice I ever had … get out in the world and network!

In my 3rd year, I became Pub Rep in the EUS, with one of my responsibilities to produce the intellectually stimulating, forward looking and culturally sensitive “RED RAG”. As you can imagine, my relationship with President Gage now took on a somewhat different tone. However, I think I must have listened carefully, as he provided patient guidance and mentorship … to a rather naïve young guy!

Later that year, recognizing that I needed money for my final year, I searched high and low for a scholarship/bursary for such a “deserving” fellow as me. I chose the Sherwood Lett scholarship … largely because it called for active involvement in campus/ student affairs, and didn’t seem to “only” emphasize the scholarly aspects. I had just been elected EUS President, so I figured my chances might be reasonable. Needless to say, I was less than a stellar scholar.

As it turned out, I ended up being runner-up to Svend Robinson (of NDP fame!) … who had a very high scholastic standing, was extensively involved in campus affairs/politics … and, perhaps most of all, did not have any RED RAG type credentials in his bio. Though Walter Gage was not on the selection committee, he was kind enough to take me aside afterwards and provide me with some guidance as to how life works in these matters.

With a heavy heart, I left his office … only to be summoned back a few weeks later. He mentioned that due to my EUS involvement, and all the good things (mostly??!!) the EUS did on campus those days, he thought there might be some appropriate bursaries for me to consider. To make a long story short … over the next few weeks, I learned that I had been selected for not one, but two or more bursaries that helped very nicely. Ahhh … life was good!

Walter Gage was a great supporter to me and many Engineering students … for which I am ever grateful!

Craig Williams
BASc 1974