Mick (Michael O'Connor) A Good Man - 3rd Jun 2014

It never occurred to me a few weeks ago when I was walking the Kepler with Mick that I would be writing this so soon. His passing has come as a horrible shock to all of us. Mick was an integral part of our community.
The following are my own impressions of a man I first met 14 years ago and regard as a good mate.
At Teacher’s College, one is told that the most important people to get on with in the school are the caretaker and the secretary. Mick made that easy. In my first few years at the school I was in a car pool that left late and I spent many hours with Mick, learning how the school worked and how the staff all fitted in together. One of the things we researched together was the status of Mick’s golf handicap. I was, and still am, impressed that he had a handicap that was close to single digits. I also learned from him and others that he had been a more than useful rugby player in his youth. He had many pearls of wisdom that he had picked up over the years and it was a true measure of his character that he became one of the best friends of the next principal, Lindsay Laing. I got to know Mick really well on the tramping trips that we did together, some years ago on the Routeburn and very recently on the Kepler. I will always be impressed by the way he went about these trips preparing thoroughly and making sure that he was fit enough. He was dedicated to his walk into town on Friday evenings and this preparation meant that he was able to cope well with the Great Walks.
Mick was very much a family man and was very proud of all his children. He really enjoyed the trips with Daune to exotic places to see them and his grandchildren. I enjoyed looking with him at the places that he was planning on visiting and seeing where he had been afterwards.
He was always interested in what other people were doing. I could rely on his stopping by my room after every holiday to see pictures of my adventures. He had many other good friends on the staff and he had the rare ability to bring out the best in all of us.
This enthusiasm translated really well into developing relationships with students. Mick was everybody’s mate and he was especially good at relating to some of the more interesting students at the school. He was able to explain life to them in language that would not always have been suitable for a teacher. His style worked for most of them and it was never a punishment for any of them to spend time with Mick. He understood that his job was as more about people than anything on his job description. His unofficial job was as a counsellor and he would always make time for anyone who needed to vent about anything. This was appreciated by all, but the outstanding example is the student from way back who made the famous MIC 1 trolley that has been used for many years.
Mick became very good at organising his work to suit the temperature in the last few years. Inside jobs got high priority on very cold mornings and it was rare to see him inside on nice days. I really enjoyed working in with him and solving the world’s problems while we did it. We would have made a great combination running the world together.
Mick’s passing leaves a huge gap in many lives. As well as his family and the school, the wider Milton community and especially the golf club, will miss him for a long time. This has been a very personal view of a man I considered a true gentleman and a good friend.
Owen Cambridge (Teacher)

« Back to News
site powered by - Turboweb :: Simple Web Manager