My Big Sister Theresa
I am here to tell you some things about Theresa. When she and Andre were 4 and 3 years old, they got in my father’s car, with Andre behind the wheel. Theresa convinced Andre to put the car in gear, and there it went, rolling down Front Street toward a traffic intersection, my father running after to stop it just in time before any unfortunate tragedy. That was Theresa; sweet, convincing, manipulative, always courting excitement and danger.
We called her Treetops or Tweezers – because she was so thin – or Tee-ta – because I was too young to wrap my mouth around three syllables. And as she got older, the fun never stopped.
Theresa loved cycling, her prized possession being her expensive Italian Botecchia racing bicycle, which I dubbed, “The Bocha-Bike”. Many of us can recall a time when Theresa would ask if we’d like to go for “a little ride”. Usually this involved an all day affair to points unknown all over and off the island of Montreal. My own experience took us from Pierrefonds to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, a 40-k journey that left me with countless blisters, I remember stopping briefly in a diner in St. Anne for a Pepsi, listening to Paul McCartney and Wings on the diner booth jukebox, before I was whisked back in the saddle for the long journey home.
Theresa loved music. She introduced me to Jethro Tull, Rush, Pink Floyd, Genesis (the Peter Gabriel Genesis, she would have never tolerated how they later de-evolved and “sold out”), Manfred Mann, The Strawbs, Gentle Giant, in short, all things Prog-Rock – my musical tastes remain thoroughly stuck in the Seventies. Her favorite was David Bowie. We saw him once together at The Forum (separate sections of course, she would not have put up with being seen with her uncool, younger brother). She would have seen Bowie a second time, but she contracted Mono and my parents made her stay at home – something she never forgave them for.
All this is not to point out that Theresa was strong willed, but that Theresa was young… and a delight, a day does not pass when I do not laugh at something because of Theresa.
Thirty years ago today, at this hour Theresa was attending a Chemistry class in the Johnson building. Later in the day she would have English, and open-country running at the sports centre. She was planning for a camping trip her and some students would make in October at Mt. Orford. She was a real person, just like any of your students here today.
As some of you know, I have recently gone back to school, and am currently on leave from my PhD studies. My field is Public Policy and Administration, and I have a great interest in ethics and the hard choices we sometime face in life. A typical ethical problem solving tool involves using several ethical approaches to resolve an ethical dilemma. Thus matters of Virtue are considered in conjunction with questions of Principal and Consequence. The three methods battle it out until a clear 2/3rds majority is revealed, and an informed decision can be made.
Five years ago when I came calling on the door of Champlain College and then Director General, Gerry Cutting what was really in my heart was the Golden Rule and the idea of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I wanted at that time a reconciliation. Yet in regard to Theresa’s death I still felt there were matters of Principal and The Greater Good that needed to be explored, so Virtue would have to be set aside for a time.
Today I feel the issue of Theresa’s death as it concerns Champlain has been thoroughly vetted; I have no wish to continue looking back in the past regarding Theresa and Champlain. So it was, last year that I came, again to Gerry Cutting with an olive branch and an idea to start a scholarship. At the time the offer was made I fully expected Champlain to reject it, so many ill-feelings had past between us. To my surprise and delight, Mr. Cutting fully embraced the idea, and from the moment he first insisted I call him Gerry to his retirement he was determined to make it work.
Now a new Director General, Kenneth Robertson, has stepped forward. I have a hard time expressing just how touched I have been by his actions. If I were to relay to you what he has done, I’m sure it would strike you as nothing out of the ordinary. But for me and my family, who have rarely seen any commitment and follow-through regarding Theresa, Mr. Robertson’s continued professionalism has been an extraordinary balm and comfort.
Theresa was tenacious with a T. Getting into an argument with her was like trying to wrestle a Frisbie out of the mouth of a Pit-Bull. If first she couldn’t beat you with logic, then she’d just beat you, and wear you down until you gave in. Some of that fight has rubbed off on me. But Theresa also had great capacity for understanding and forgiveness. She could be a friend to everyone; it wasn’t in her nature to hold a grudge, just as it is not within my truest nature to cling to resentment.
To the Townships community: For a very long time the name Theresa Allore has come to be associated with shame or gloom, if it was ever considered at all. Know that in my heart I bare this community no ill-will. When I come here, it gives me great pleasure to be here. Many of my closest friends live here, and there is nothing more beautiful than a Fall day by the lake. I would ask the people of the Townships to join with me in celebrating Theresa’s memory by contributing to this endowment so that future students may to take advantage of your community’s rich offerings.
With that I welcome any further questions, especially those concerning the particulars of the scholarship fund.
John Allore, brother of Theresa Allore