“I have no money now!”

Whew! Walter Gage made all that I experienced possible. I was in first year (69/70) and Jan/Feb 70 I ran out of money – literally I was stone broke. It was a Friday; I read in the Ubyssey paper that emergency loans were available! I could not believe my eyes! I went over to the administration office and said to the woman behind the desk, “I understand that there are emergency loans available?” “Yes”, she said, “you’ll have to come back Monday.” “Monday!”, I exclaimed. She tried to brush me off as I noticed her looking over my right shoulder as I could hear somebody enter the office. So, I raised my intensity, “I have no money now!”

Just then, an arm came around my shoulder and he said,” what is the matter son?” I looked up to my right and there I was face-to-face with Walter Gage. I literally teared up and I explained I was out of money. He said to me, “I have a class right now. Do you know where my other office is in the math building? I said, “Yes”.

When he arrived at his math office he asked me to sit down and explain my situation. I I told him I just got out of the Canadian military engineers after spending six years as a combat engineer and I would like to go into engineering and become a professional engineer. After some discussion he asked me how much I would need to finish the year. I told him and he wrote me a personal check and gave it to me. I just about fell out of the chair saying oh my god thank you!! I asked when would you like it paid back. He said not to worry. I paid him back that summer from my summer job first pay check.

I graduated in electrical engineering (74) and since did an MBA (SFU) and graduate program in International Development at the London School of Economics. At UBC another guy and I formed the UBC Skydivers club and we jumped into campus three times, broke the high altitude night parachuting record and I headed the sport committee. My career in international development has been rich beyond my dreams.

Now I am paying Walter Gage’s kindness forward through donating and participating in the UBC Engineering Mentoring Program and really enjoying it.

Lea Johnson
BASc 1974