Board mourns death of commissioner
John Killingbeck first Anglo administrator hailed by province
Lester B. Pearson School Board commissioner John Killingbeck passed away on October 1 at the age of 77. He was surrounded by his wife and five children at the time of his death.
The board announced his passing Friday morning and it was not long before many began to remember the upbeat man who not only made education his life’s work, but who did it with a smile on his face.
“When you would see him at any school functions, he not only took the time to say hello to you, he remembered the name of your husband and the names of each of your children and how old they were... No one else has ever done that since,” said a teacher, recalling Killingbeck during his time as Director General under the old Lakeshore School Board, from 1993 to 1997.
In 1997, Killingbeck was the first Anglophone and first educational administrator to be awarded the Prix de Carrière as part of the Prix d’excellence de l’administration publique, an annual award given out by the province of Quebec.
“John touched so many lives in so many good ways over a lifetime of educational and community service. He was a leader in the true sense of the word. His enthusiasm and optimism were infinite,” said Marcus Tabachnick, Chairman of the LBPSB last week. “To me, he was a colleague, a mentor, and more than a friend. He will be missed by everyone.”
Killingbeck’s career in education began in 1956, when he became a teacher at Cedar Park Elementary school. In between, he worked as a teacher, a guidance counsellor and a principal, among many other jobs he held in education.
Killingbeck came out of retirement to take a position as a Lester B. Pearson School Board Commissioner in 2003, where he represented Pointe-ClaireWest (Clearpoint Elementary, St. Thomas High School and John Rennie High School).
In a 2007 article written for the Association of Administrators of English Schools of Quebec, titled My Life as a Retiree, Killingbeck recalled how he also spent time working as a curb-side “doorman” for aWest Island elementary school.
“By chance, it rained hard one early September morning and as I dropped (my wife) Olga off at her school. I witnessed many parents delivering their children to a very busy curbside spot near the school. To say congestion existed would be an understatement. That same rainy night passing a downtown hotel, I saw another curbside spot under control. Here the hotel doorman greeter was doing his thing and it struck me that this support may prove helpful at the school. Principal Pat Deans was open to a suggestion and so was launched the Kiss and Go Lane with yours truly being the curbside greeter. Retirement didn’t seem so bad after all.”
John Killingbeck, son of Elsie and Eldred Killingbeck, was with his wife Olga at the time of his death. Also with him were his five children: Marina, Natasha, Alexandra, Victoria and Gregory. He is also survived by his grandchildren Savanna, Tristan, Nadia, Elena, Nicholas, Anna, Maya, Ava, Leila, Sophie and Thomas.
The family received condolences Monday, while a private family service will be held. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the John Killingbeck Memorial Fund, c\o the Pearson Educational Foundation, 1925 Brookdale Avenue, Dorval QC H9P 2Y7.
John Killingbeck, a Lester B. Pearson commissioner and the first Anglophone school administrator to win the Prix de Carrière award, died last week at age 77.