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‘He will always be one of our pack’: William C. Winegard PS pays tribute to the late Dr. Winegard

February 28, 2019

GUELPH, Ontario – He will be remembered fondly as generous, kind, and a cherished member of the Winegard Wolf Pack. On Thursday Feb. 28, the students and staff at William C. Winegard Public School gave a touching tribute to Dr. William Winegard.

Dr. Winegard was a veteran, former President of the University of Guelph and Guelph MP, and beloved member of the Guelph community. He passed away on January 31 at the age of 94.

The Guelph school opened in September 2014 and was named after Dr. Winegard. Dr. Winegard was a frequent visitor at the school and when he arrived each time, he was given a rock star welcome from the students, especially the kindies who couldn’t wait for him to read to them in class. Dr. Winegard once said, “I read to kindergarten kids every week and I love when they start to ask questions. Then I know I’m there for a purpose…when I see the kids beginning to ask questions, then I know it has been a successful period.”

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Dr. Winegard also attended numerous Remembrance Day ceremonies at the school, speaking about his experiences of the war and the importance of standing up to bullies. He would visit each September, when the school would throw a celebration in honour of his birthday

“This was his place,” said Principal Curt McQueen, “but every time he came in, he couldn’t believe this was his place.” He was always humble, with a sparkle in his eyes, said McQueen.

On Thursday, the gym, foyer and library were decorated with student art made in honour of Dr. Winegard.

At the assembly, Bill Winegard, Dr. Winegard’s son spoke, telling students the four lessons Dr. Winegard instilled in him and his brother as children. He always asked the boys “did you boys remember to thank you mom today?” He would ask, “did you look after your bicycles so they can look after you?” making sure they were taking care of their bikes so they could complete their paper route. Dr. Winegard also said that a job worth doing was worth doing well. You don’t have to be the best – you have to do your best. The last thing he and his brother would hear all the time was, “leave it better than you found it,” which often came up when they were camping, but really applied to anywhere they found themselves in the world.  Bill said that Dr. Winegard thought we were so lucky to live in Canada, and it is up to all of us to leave the land better than we found it.

The school then showed a video of Brynn Winegard, Dr. Winegard’s youngest granddaughter, who thanked the school for all of the ways they included her grandfather and for their tributes to him. She said that the whole community made his time at the school so special. She thanked all the students for keeping the spirit of the Winegard Wolves alive.

Also as part of Thursday’s celebration, a grade 7 class presented poems they wrote for Dr. Winegard, touching on his enthusiasm for life, positivity, generosity and warm heart. A grade 8 class performed an original song about diversity and inclusion – things they said Dr. Winegard modelled.

The final presentation was from representatives from the school’s 19 classes. One student from each class shared some thoughts about Dr. Winegard, whether it was reading books to the kindies, bringing in his war medals on Remembrance Day, or talking to kids about standing up to bullies. Students said they miss him but will always remember their time with him. “He will always be one of our pack.”

The celebration ended with a moving slideshow of photos of Dr. Winegard throughout his life and his time at the school.

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