Father Greg MacLeod dead at 81
SYDNEY — A popular local priest and community activist who helped redefine economic development by essentially selling shares in Cape Breton has died.
Rev. Greg MacLeod, known simply as Father Greg by many, had been battling a lengthy illness. He was 81. Shortly after he was ordained in 1961, the Sydney Mines native was appointed to teach at Xavier Junior College in Sydney.
A lifelong educator and member of the Order of Canada, MacLeod became involved in community economic development when the coal mines were closing in 1969, and spent much of his life after that finding ways to combine Christian social teachings with sound business practices. His emphasis on an economy based on human values rather than profit inspired him to found the Tompkins Institute at Cape Breton University, which led to the creation of community economic development ventures New Dawn Enterprises and BCA Holdings.
Well-known businessman Jim Kehoe was a personal friend of MacLeod’s who worked closely with him on various projects over the past 30 years. He said MacLeod’s contributions to the university and economic development in Cape Breton were “unreal.”
“Even when he was teaching at the university, he’d only take half his salary and he’d give the other half back to the Beaton Institute and to hire students and things like that,” said Kehoe, owner and president of Joneljim Concrete Construction Ltd.
Kehoe said MacLeod’s work ethic was unmatched even in his final days, recalling how his friend half-jokingly told family he didn’t want any visitors who were just there to talk.
“I went down one Saturday morning about a month ago and his sister was there giving him a little hand and he said to his sister, ‘Now if they don’t have a file in their hand when they come here, don’t let them in because I can’t work all day now,’” Kehoe said. “He knew he was on his dying bed, yet he wanted to produce something. He said ‘I’ve got a lot of things to do but I don’t have much time to do it.’”
Funeral arrangements for MacLeod were still pending.