I only saw him twice. The first time was when he was visiting Ipoh and I was only 15 at that time. He held a talk about careers in a neighboring school in town.
The second time was somewhere in late 2007 where I managed to spend one Saturday afternoon at St. John's to talk to him. I introduced myself and reminded him of being in Ipoh 10 years ago and we started to talk. At that time of talking, he had a bad fall from the staircase, which was the prelude to the next few months of being bound to the wheelchair as he's weak to walk.
Being 91 is pretty good, considering that he outlived Brother Ultan Paul, whom I used to see when I was a boy. If there is a wake for all students to come and see, it's today and for myself, I've been through three or four wakes, mostly being my grandparents and the first one was on Brother Paul's wake back in mid-April 2000.
LA SALLIAN Brother Datuk Lawrence Spitzig, the former director of St John's Institution Kuala Lumpur (SJI), who dedicated his entire life to education and youth died yesterday at the Assunta Hospital, Petaling Jaya.
He was 91.
Brother Lawrence who was in a coma for the last five days lost his long battle with prostate and lung cancer.
His contributions to education have been immense. Among his most notable contributions to SJI was the fact that he wrote the lyrics for the SJI school song Cheer cheer & courage display, which till today is sung by its students.
Born in Feb 4, 1918, the Canadian served two terms as the school director (a role equivalent to school principal). The first was from 1955 till 1961 and the second was from 1979 till 1983.
After his retirement, Spitzig visited East Malaysia to help the poor who hailed from Sabah and Sarawak's indigenous tribes.
His six decades of dedication as a school administrator won him many titles and honours. He was awarded a Datukship by the King in conjunction with the Federal Territories Day this year.
He was also granted the "Jasamu Dikenang" award during this year's Teacher's Day celebrations. The La Sallian Brother was also honoured with The Order of Canada in 2004, which is Canada's highest civilian honour and awarded to outstanding Canadians.
Brother Lawrence's body will be brought to the St John's chapel in SJI today at 9.30am and his funeral service will be held at St John's Cathedral, Kuala Lumpur at 10am tomorrow.