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"McOM" 2003 Obituary


McCOMBE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-09-16 published
McCOMBE, Reverend Roger William
I, The Reverend Roger William McCOMBE, died on Monday September 15, 2003 at the age of 60. With non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in my life for some years, I am grateful for the lessons cancer gave me, and the new priorities it brought my way. I need to say good-bye for now to my wife, Gloria, who taught me the theology of love, and whose care and support supplied me with the ballast to carry out my careers as a teacher, a priest, and a police chaplain. She will never know how much she meant, means, and will always mean to me. I want to thank my elder son, Warren, for teaching me the theology of hope. He hasn't always taken the easiest routes, but I am so proud that he has found his niche in the world of plumbing. I want to thank my younger son, Ryan, for his lessons in the theology of music. His wise tinkling of the ivories has afforded me more pleasure than he can imagine. I also want to thank him for bringing Krista into my life and our family. Finally, I want to thank all of my colleagues and Friends throughout my life and career for sharing with me the theology of Friendship. Whatever I gave to you, you have returned to me many times over. My body is to be cremated, and the ashes will be buried beside my mother, who was my philosophical guide. There will be a memorial service on Saturday September 20, 2003 at 10: 00 am at Central United Church, Woodstock, Ontario (at the corner of Riddell and Adelaide Streets). It will be a service of music, memories, and good-byes. If you wish to memorialize our time together and our Friendship, you are invited to make a donation to the Rev. Roger W. McCombe Trust Fund of Central United Church (my spiritual home for some years now). I place no restrictions on the Trust Fund, except that it be used for ''people'' in a way the church might not otherwise have been able to afford. Such memorial gifts may be made through the R.D. Longworth Funeral Home, 845 Devonshire Ave., Woodstock, N4S 8Z4 (519-539-0004), or Central United Church, c/o Ellen Town, 32 Riddell Street, Woodstock, Ontario N4S 6M1 (519-537-2373).
''Some great moments occur from time to time in life. When you do all you can to enable others to have great moments, you'll be blessed with some matchless moments yourself''
(For those great moments in your life, which you allowed me to enter and share with you, I thank you. For those matchless moments with which I have been blessed in return, I thank God)

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McCOMBE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-12-10 published
Roger William McCOMBE
By Carole L. WHITE/WHYTE, Gloria McCOMBE Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - Page A28
Husband, father, educator, police chaplain. Born July 12, 1943, in Lindsay, Ontario Died September 15 in Woodstock, Ontario, of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, aged 60.
I first met Roger when he was 29 and I was in his Grade 10 classes at Espanola High. This was years before he would be awarded status of master teacher from the Thames Valley District School Board, but he was already a brilliant teacher. Roger held a degree in classics and one in theology from the University of Toronto and he was born to play the role of Greek philosopher. The classroom was his stage and he liked to remind us often that the Greeks had been there, done that and figured it all out for us. His very first students in Lindsay remember hilarious chariot races, his students in Espanola remember his Greek soldier costume, and his students in Ingersoll remember Roger every year when an award in his name is given to honour the student who best learned to think with both head and heart.
But I remember how he taught his classes. He never lectured, he understood instinctively that a teacher leads and that learning is a process. He most often started his class with a question. In Latin we translated the works of great men and women of antiquity and then we discussed what they thought, even if it meant applying our teenage logic to television reruns. He challenged us to examine our beliefs and to question rigid dogma. He couldn't have chosen a better audience than high-school teenagers -- already so set in their ways -- and he knew it. He pretended to be naive and incredulous to draw out our thoughts and to challenge us to organize these thoughts into a personal philosophy. To be in one of Roger's classes was like sitting at the feet of Plato, Aristotle or Socrates.
Ordained an Anglican minister, Roger was never without a pulpit in any number of churches of all denominations. He was most happy at Central United Church in Woodstock where he was named honorary associate minister. As his reputation in the Woodstock area grew, he was invited to speak to countless (and varied) organizations culminating with hospice and bereavement groups. For many years he reached others in articles he wrote for local newspapers. He had been called to deliver a message and his message was simply to make a masterpiece of each and every day.
At first I laughed when he told me he was also wearing the hat of police chaplain but then I remembered (without his help) that the Greeks had invented laws. He saw a need and cared for (and delivered his famous hugs to) victims, the police and their families through bad times. His favourite aphorism: "I can complain the rosebush has thorns or I can rejoice that the thornbush has roses" might sound simple, but Roger saw life from every perspective.
Roger guided many of his former students and Friends through marriages, births and deaths. I last saw Roger in January when he came to minister at the funeral of a family member. It was good to hear again his profound faith and his belief that we should be happy with "enough" in our lives. Despite fatigue from his illness, Roger was still laughing, his eyes still twinkled and he was still charmed by life no matter how simple or complicated. Privately, he talked of the sacrifices his wife Gloria and sons Warren and Ryan had made in order that he might carry on a very busy and public life. In the obituary he penned for himself, he challenged us to enable others to have great moments so that we would be blessed with great moments of our own. I believe Roger was and is very blessed.
Carole was a student and friend and wrote this with help from Roger's wife, Gloria McCOMBE.

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McCOMBIE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-08-29 published
By Kathleen FLANAGAN Friday, August 29, 2003 - Page A20
Workers' advocate, friend, family man. Born December 18, 1949, in Winchester, England. Died July 31 in Toronto, of cancer, aged If you have a friend on whom you think you can rely, you are a lucky man./ If you have a reason to live on and not to die, you are a lucky man.
Nick McCOMBIE was a lucky man. Many times in the last four years, he described himself that way, in a reference to the song, O Lucky Man, written in 1972 by Alan Price. This might seem an odd way for a man with terminal cancer to describe himself. But it made perfect sense: Nick was proud of his accomplishments, he was happy with his family: wife and soul-mate, Kathy BRADFORD, and sons Peter and Liam (aged 23 and 14). He enjoyed playing and coaching hockey. He knew he was loved by his many Friends. Despite a cancer diagnosis in 1999, Nick was mindful of all of life's blessings.
Healthy and vibrant during most of his four-year struggle with cancer, Nick was known for his sense of humour and his love of life. Nick had accepted that he was dying, but, at age 53, he did not go willingly. He would have liked a few more years to see his sons mature, to rail against the troublesome global situation, to listen to Bonnie Raitt, and to play guitar from the deck of his cottage in Boutilier's Point, Nova Scotia.
An advocate for injured workers since the late 1970s, Nick felt very fortunate with his life's work. His formal education had been cut short in 1966, when he was expelled from high school after Grade 10 for having long hair. By today's standards, this was a shocking abuse of power, effectively impeding his access to a post-secondary education. As he matured, he learned the value of strategic compromise, but he never regretted taking a position.
Before becoming active in workers' rights, Nick had made his living through a variety of physical labour jobs, such as taxi-driving, and warehouse and factory work. And he played guitar with The Churls, a scrappy rock 'n' roll band that played in Yorkville Village in the late 60s.
There were many things that set Nick apart from others, during those early days. He read Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and Voltaire. He was strongly opposed to recreational drugs. And, despite his long hair, he had no counter-culture affectations. Nick was decidedly uncool. In fact, it was a point of pride with him. Another point of pride was that he took political ideas seriously.
Nick became active in his union which eventually led him to injured workers' issues. In 1985, he became a member of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal. In 1987, he co-authored a legal textbook, Workers Compensation in Ontario. In 1991, he was appointed vice-chair of the Appeals Tribunal, a position he served until his death. Passionate about the rights of working people, Nick found the area of workers' compensation intellectually challenging and personally rewarding, extraordinarily so for someone who had never completed high school. Two months before he died, the Ontario Bar Association honoured Nick with the Ron Ellis Award for Excellence in Workers' Compensation Law -- the first time the award had been given to a non-lawyer. This recognition pleased Nick.
Born the only child of a Scottish mother and a Canadian father, Nick was a consummate Canadian nationalist, whose values were perfectly aligned with the Canadian ideals of fairness, respect, and reason. Nick understood that to change the present, it is necessary to understand the past, concurring with Karl Marx that "Men make their own history, but they do so under conditions not of their own choosing." Nick believed that if history is studied, if the rule of law is respected, and if tyranny is opposed at every turn, a better world will be created with bread and roses for all.
Kathleen is a friend of Nick McCOMBIE.

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