May the Fishing be Great Mr. Heppell

I would like to think everyone had one or two favourite teachers they look back fondly upon. Well, in my case Mr. Heppell was definitely one of them and sadly he passed away on January 13th at home with his family by his side. Here is his official obituary: Thomas George “Tom” Heppell.

Mr Heppell was my Grade 4 and 5 teacher at Uplands Elementary School and although he was not a softy by any measure he was very likable and best of all, he was a great teacher. So great, in fact, I still think of the Ten Word List he had us do every week… I hated it at the time but it definitely took my vocabulary to a whole new level.

Here is how the Ten Word List worked (as I foggily remember it) and in retrospect I think the concept is genius:

  1. On Mondays Mr. Heppell would write down 10 words on the chalk board that were complicated enough we would need to look them up in our dictionary to understand them.
  2. On Friday mornings one of two things would happen: either Mr. Heppell would go through the list with the class, asking various students to define the words, OR there would be a pop quiz! The pop quiz consisted of  a random list of words from the Ten Word List (not all ten I don’t think) and we would have to write the answers down.
  3. After we finished the test we would trade papers and mark them, finally handing in the marked papers to Mr. Heppell who would use the marks later as a component of your report card.

The Ten Word List was a huge contributor to the decent vocabulary I have today and I can’t thank him enough for that. Of course, this was only one of many ways Tom Heppell was a great teacher but it always stands out in my mind.

Lastly, and this is the reason for the fishy title, Mr. Heppell and I had great one-on-one conversations about fishing and I always enjoyed hearing his fish tales. Simply put, Mr. Heppell and I shared a love of fishing and being on the ocean. As a result, a friendship hatched throughout my years in Elementary School and when Mr. Heppell suffered a heart attack when I was in Grade 7, I was chosen by the school to deliver our mass get-well card to him and I was honored to do so.

I have not seen or talked to Mr. Heppell more than a handful of times since I delivered his card but whenever I did I enjoyed seeing him happy and healthy. Tom deserved a great retirement and I often thought of him smiling out on the flats (fishing area) with his rod tip high and the sun shining. I also knew he had grand children and I could only imagine they would be absolutely in love with their Grandpa and his many stories and tales.

In conclusion, I and my family wish the Heppell family well in their time of grieving and I want them to know just how special I thought Tom was and that he will live forever fondly in my memory.

R.I.P  Tom Heppell