Garry Halpert, who taught English and History at Malcolm Campbell High School in the early 1960s, has passed away

We were saddened to learn, from Nicole Halpert, Garry Halpert’s daughter, that her father, who taught at Malcolm Campbell High School in the early 1960s, has passed away.

Garry Halpert. Source: Montreal Gazette, April 11, 2018.

Garry Halpert. Source: Montreal Gazette, April 11, 2018.

The text of an April 11, 2018 obituary published in the Montreal Gazette reads:

Thy life’s a miracle. ~ King Lear

English and History teacher at Westhill and Malcom Campbell High Schools, Garry Halpert passed away peacefully at St-Mary’s hospital on April 5, 2018, surrounded by his family. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Garry was an optimist who loved life to the fullest. We are convinced his inquisitive mind, creativity and sense of humour, was what kept him on this planet for almost 92 years! Garry was a fan of literature, musical comedies, Italian films and Shakespeare. “You should never leave the house without a Shakespeare in your pocket”, he once said. His closest childhood friend Lenny Polster passed away last summer and we are certain both Cleveland boys are in Heaven playing basketball and having a good laugh. We should celebrate Garry. He was not one for melancholy and sadness. A modest get together will take place Saturday, April 14 from 2 p.m to 5 p.m. at Kane & Fetterly 5301 Décarie. Special thanks to the staff at Lev-Tov Residence who cared for him during the last year of his life, especially to Trevlyn. Anyone wanting to make a donation in his name, could donate to St-Mary’s hospital foundation:


Garry Halpert’s favourite music

I have a post at this website, entitled:

Linking a favourite song to each of the MCHS Alumni and Teachers who have passed away

I have added, to the above-noted post, the following great information from his daughter:

“He loved jazz (chet baker, toni bennett) + classics such as Night and Day: he remembered all the words of this type of song.

“And he loved musical comedies but I think Night and Day is a good one!”

As well, Nicole Halpert has shared the following thoughts, from a former student, regarding Garry Halpert’s inspiring, and life-changing, impact as a teacher:

“One of his former students from Westhill came by the funeral: it was touching to hear how he had changed her life actually by encouraging her and inspiring her with Shakespeare!”

I’m pleased to note, as well (because such comments inspire me tremendously, as a volunteer keen to help out as best as I know how, with keeping memories of MCHS alive amongst all of us), that Nicole has added: “hats off to you for doing this website. He would have loved it had I known about it then.”


4 replies
  1. Yehoshua Friedman
    Yehoshua Friedman says:

    I had Garry as a fifth-grade teacher in Cleveland (Beachwood) before he moved to Montreal. His love for the French language and culture was evident. He played touch football with us during recess. He was a dedicated guy and loved teaching. He moved on to where he wanted to be. May his memory be blessed.

  2. Bob Carswell
    Bob Carswell says:

    [Note from Jaan Pill: At this post Bob Carswell notes that, in Bob’s case, he had an extremely difficult time as a student in Garry Halpert’s class. In my role as site administrator, I have deleted some remarks (indicated by ellipses, that is: …) out of respect for a teacher who has passed away, and who is not in a position to respond to comments. That said, Bob’s point, that some teachers did not have an understanding of the fact that a student could be very smart, and yet could have a learning disability, is well taken. I agree with Bob that, in the circumstances that Bob describes, it was bad news, indeed, for a teacher to say, “I’m going to teach you a lesson.”]

    Bob writes:

    … He was my teacher in Grade Nine at MCHS. I had struggled with my education through Montreal High School having failed grade eight twice but I was able to go to Summer School and graduate into grade nine. I failed that year too but it was 1960 and MCHS opened. I arrived in the class run by Garry Halpert, my second grade nine teacher. Once again, I worked as hard as I could and when I received my marks found out that I had once again just got through with enough marks to go to summer school. Garry Halpert said to me that day, “I am going to teach you a lesson, I am not going to allow you to go to summer school.”

    … The only lesson he taught me was how to hate. The next year I broke my neck on a diving board and the following year had a kidney removed and lung collapse that kept me out of school until December 5th. Needless to say, I lost that year too and ended up at Sir George Williams Evening High School for the next 13 courses which got me into SGWU with 70.5%, half a per cent above their minimum acceptance to do a degree. Learning was never easy for me because I am a total visual learner and did not do well with teachers who were preachers and did not use chalkboards.

    At the age of 46, I self-identified my learning disabilities from an article I read in Reader’s Digest about a teacher of children with learning disabilities. She characterised each child individually and as I read about them, I suddenly caught myself saying, “That’s me! That’s me! That’s me!” I was elated that I had found out the truth. Everyone has certain skills, with Garry it was the arts and music.

    I have known Graeme Decarie since I was 8 and he was 17 and a councillor at the Northmount YMCA in St. Laurent where I spent a lot of summers in the day program as a youngster. We are still in contact to this day and I say to him “Sorry, Graeme, I do not share your admiration for Garry”.

    To this day, Graeme remembers the Cartierville School visit where he was asking students to tell him of their favourite games as they planned the following year at the YMCA. He had moved on to the next item on his agenda when I started to say Buck Buck and kept repeating it. Characteristic of a child with learning disabilities, I needed time to process the question before coming up with an answer; Graeme remembers that episode to this day. I made the same mistake when I was teaching English to Spanish students and one student did the same thing to me. I later understood that was me with Graeme as a youngster. I had reacted the same way he did.

    Garry Halpert attended the MCHS reunion in the year 2000 and I saw him there. I had talked to Graeme earlier while registering for the event as I had not seen him for years but at the reunion, I totally ignored Garry Halpert. It was my way of thanking him for taking a year of my life away from me. What he never knew is that I was likely the only non-graduate there among the 1,200 people who attended. WHY? Because I am an idea man. I may be dyslexic but I have a quick mind and I am able to find solutions. I came up with a method to help a Montreal student find his classmates for a reunion. I told him what to do, how to do it and gave him 5 years to accomplish it, making the Y2K event one to remember. At the time I was off work as I was dealing with an allergy to Benadryl which was paralysing me so I could do little more than tell him how to do it over the Internet. Garry Halpert never got to know that it was one of his grade nine students that had made that reunion possible. It also led to a 55th Anniversary reunion in Toronto in 2015 and there are groups of students that still meet for lunch to this day in Toronto and Kitchener, Ontario.

    … What he will never know is that I went on to earn four bachelor degrees, at three universities in two cities, among them a Bachelor of Education from the U of T with the plan to teach Special Education in my later years, however, other genetic problems raised their head, multi-hospital stays, operations and eventual disabilities. I currently live on a single kidney which operates at 26%, I am disabled, diabetic and not long for this world myself due to isolation from this COVID-19. I HATE the life I have had to live with all my ongoing disabilities. but unlike Garry Halpert who lived to be 92, and Graeme Decarie who is somewhere around 85, my genetic problems will likely kill me before I am 80, unlike my father’s generation who lived to be 80, 88, 88 & 88 or my mother and sister who lived to be 85 and 87 respectively. However, there is one thing I learned in life and that is how to be a survivor. I am going to fight right to the very end, even if it kills me. hahaha.


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