A Board of Trustees tribute to The Padre
"At the same time that we share the sense of tragedy that accompanies the death of a student, and also remember the contributions of an alumnus who served on this Board, it seems somehow apt to pay tribute to one who for almost half a century was at the fore of these sad occasions.
"In a place where traditions are numerous and legacies stretch over lifetimes, in the last century at Queen’s there have been only a handful of individuals who can appropriately bear the descriptor “legendary” – those few whose commitment to the University overflowed their roles, and whose impact stretched to every corner of the Queen’s community, and transcended generations. This evening, the Board pays tribute to one of these – The Rev. Dr. Marshall Laverty, known to his closest friends as Marsh, but across the Queen’s family as The Padre, a nickname he acquired while serving on active duty as a Canadian army chaplain on the battlefields of Europe. Padre Laverty passed away on February 20th, in his 99th year.
"Principal Robert Wallace’s appointment of Padre Laverty as Queen’s Chaplain in 1947 was the first of its kind to a Canadian university. For almost 40 years, the Padre was both an advisor to the leaders of the University, and a counselor to those in need – be it spiritually, personally, or financially. He built community here at our Alma Mater. He travelled the roads and rails of the nation as a most effective student recruiter, and a leading ambassador with alumni, who were always happy to host him in their hometowns or visit him back in Kingston.
"As Chaplain, he guided the community through times of tragedy, and led celebrations and ceremonies that marked milestones of great joy in lives of individuals and of this University, including presiding over countless convocations, baptisms, weddings and funerals. While it is no surprise that almost all Queen’s students knew Padre Laverty, what was most remarkable was that he knew almost all students – their names, faces, hometowns, high schools and connections to Queen’s. These relationships were fostered by his generosity, and that of his wife Frances, as they hosted legions of Queen’s students at their homes on Albert Street. The depth of these connections ensured that Padre Laverty remained a popular fixture at Queen’s alumni gatherings well beyond his official retirement in 1983, and resulted in his being a Queen’s touchstone for more than half a century.
"In life, the Padre was deservedly recognized in many ways for his service to both Queen’s and the Kingston community. They included: membership in the Order of Canada, a Queen’s honorary LLD, the Distinguished Service Award, the John Orr Award, the Montreal Medal, and the Kingston Award, which was renamed in his honour.
"As a Board, we celebrate a life of service well-lived, and extend the condolences of the entire Queen’s family to Frances Laverty, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
"Finally, those of us who knew Padre will recollect that his favourite quotation (borrowed from his good friend, Vice Principal William McNeill’s speech on the occasion of Queen’s Centennial), which Padre always delivered with a broad smile and twinkle in his eyes, asked listeners to consider his own future. And I think that he would nod approvingly to conclude this epitaph with it: 'Though I am not a Queen’s man born, nor a Queen’s man bred,/Yet when I die, there’s a Queen’s man dead./So works the magic of this place.'”