Obituary of Thomas Gallant
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GALLANT, Thomas Pictou It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Thomas ‘Tom’ Gallant. Tom was an exceptional man who had a profound impact on Canadian Judo, education, photography, and everyone that came into his life. Tom, a native of Newfoundland, passed away on October 7, 2023, at his home, wrapped in the loving arms of his wife, Virginia, and son, Josh. Tom’s passion for Judo was unparalleled, and his unwavering commitment to the development of the sport in NL led him to numerous roles. In addition to being a chief instructor for the clubs he led, Tom proudly served for eight years as a Vice President of Judo Canada and was President of the Newfoundland & Labrador Judo Association (NLJA), NLJA Referee Chairman, NLJA Coaching Chairman, Chairman of the NLJA Black Belt Grading Board, and a Course Conductor with the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP). In recognition of his dedication and contribution, Tom was honoured with the esteemed privilege of induction to the NL Judo Association Hall of Fame in 1993, and into Sport NL Hall of Fame in 2009. With his indomitable spirit, Tom achieved the esteemed rank of a Fifth Degree Black Belt in 2003 and trained countless black belts and national champions, leaving an indelible mark on his students and the Judo community. Beyond his accomplishments in the world of Judo, Tom was a visionary educator and an exceptional leader. Tom focused the first twelve years of his teaching career on physical education and Special Education at St. Stephen’s High School in Stephenville, NL (1971-1983). He then moved to St. John’s NL and worked in the insurance industry for over a decade; however, teaching was his undeniable passion. As a result, Tom entered the master’s in education program at Memorial University (MUN) and graduated with his M.Ed. in 1998. Following graduation, Tom found his calling as the principal of West Lynn Heights K-12 school in Lynn Lake, MB. For 14 years, Tom embraced the role and embodied the characteristics of a community leader. As a principal, Tom not only fostered a nurturing and inclusive environment, inspiring countless students, and colleagues alike, he positioned the school as a social nexus of the community, bringing students, parents, elders, and staff together to co-create and foster the community through their greatest resource – their children. As a result of this tireless dedication to community and educational excellence, Tom was honourd with the remarkable privilege and award of “Canada’s Outstanding Principle” in 2013. The impact he’s had on the lives of those he touched and mentored continues to reverberate today, and through generations to come. Additionally, Tom saw beauty everywhere he looked, often capturing it through his camera lens. He was a master photographer, renowned nationally for his artistic vision and technical skill. Tom was a member of the Art2Sea Gallery in Pictou and shared his work and knowledge with all who visited. His keen attention to detail and ability to capture the essence of a moment were unrivaled. Tom’s talent extended beyond his own work as he served as a respected judge in local, provincial, and national-level photography competitions with the Canadian Association Photographic Art (CAPA), sharing his expertise and shaping the landscape of the photography community. Within this role, Tom again embraced his teaching character to benefit the community of photographers. Never one to waste a minute, Tom somehow found the time for dedication to another love – music. Like everything Tom pursued, he came into music with lifelong dedication to excellence. From the early days of his musical journey, it was evident that Tom had an innate talent and a genuine love for the art. Whether it was participation in the high school orchestra, drumming in the Canadian Cadet Corp and the Na Gaisgich Pipe and Drums, or at small social gatherings, Tom embraced music with love and gusto. He spent countless hours engrossed in his guitar, banjo, and drum. His commitment to refining his skills knew no bounds and he embraced every opportunity to learn and grow as a musician. Amidst his own musical pursuits, Tom was also a staunch advocate for novice musicians, teaching students the guitar and banjo as young as 10 years of age. He believed that everyone had a unique skill and that music should be accessible to all, regardless of skill level. He generously shared his knowledge and expertise, offering guidance and support to anyone wanting to learn, nurturing their talents, and encouraging them to embrace their own musical journeys. Tom will always be remembered for his steadfast integrity, genuine kindness, and his unwavering support of the underdog. He was a beacon of inspiration for all who knew him, and his legacy will forever live on in the hearts and minds of those whose lives he touched. Tom is survived by his loving wife, Virginia (Smith) of 22 years; children, Ronald, Angela, Josh (Emilie) and Michael; 9 grandchildren; 5 brothers; 1 sister; many nieces and nephews, and a vast network of students, colleagues, and fellow judokas who were fortunate enough to have been touched by his wisdom and guidance. While his physical presence may no longer be with us, his spirit will continue to guide and inspire us all. Our family unreservedly offers our gratitude to the outstanding medical and community support professionals of Nova Scotia who guided us through this challenging time, from general practitioners and admitting physicians, to the professionals working in oncology and palliative care. Our family can rest easy knowing that, not only did Tom receive the highest quality care, but an experience rooted in love and compassion. Thank you. A memorial service to celebrate the extraordinary life of Thomas Gallant will be held in Newfoundland & Labrador, at a date to be determined. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of your choice in memory of Tom. In honour of Tom’s remarkable achievements and the profound impact he had on those who knew him, let us remember him with gratitude, cherish his memory, and strive to embody the same integrity, compassion, and dedication he exemplified throughout his life. May his soul rest in eternal peace.