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Anna Wehrcamp, Robert Donnan and Deanna Gruending

Robert Donnan honoured by retired teachers
July 3, 2016
by:Deanna Gruending

The sky was vast and blue. A breeze beckoned summer. The retired teachers of Tisdale and district gathered for an end-of-year outing to honour a person who has done so much for teachers, for retired teachers and for the community of Tisdale.

On Tuesday, June 21, ten retired teachers from the former Tisdale School Division welcomed a light lunch with home-made orchard desserts and rhubarb punch at
Creekside Orchard close to Melfort. Anna Wehrcamp attended on behalf of the provincial executive of the STS (Superannuated Teachers of Saskatchewan). Maureen Donald, president of the Tisdale Chapter of the STS, rang the bell that brought everyone to order and introduced the real reason for the festivities. Bob Donnan and his wife Leona needed no introduction, but some of Bob’s contributions to the teaching profession and to the retired teachers were reiterated by Deanna Gruending. She began with a snapshot of his life leading up to his contributions in Tisdale:

Bob was born in Saskatoon and graduated from high school in Kamsack. He followed his potential in maths and science through University, earning a Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan. After formative years of teaching at Loon Lake and then St. Paul’s in Saskatoon, he taught maths and sciences in Young. During this time his family of three was born. But even a collegial staff and the prospect of a principalship couldn’t convince the Donnan family to stay more than five years.

In 1969, after the resolution of a local bargaining dispute, he came to TUCS (Tisdale Unit Composite School) in Tisdale and never looked back. The Donnans had found their home; the children grew up in Tisdale and Leona was able to pursue her nursing. Besides teaching, Bob served as Saskatchewan Teachers Federation Councillor, staff rep, LINC chair and Local chair. From 1977 to 1980 Bob pioneered the computer revolution at TUCS and taught coding to both students and interested TUCS teachers. His work was recognised nationally with the SACE/MacIntosh (Science and Computer Education) award for computer innovation in 1983.

Retiring from teaching in 1992, Bob worked at
Dataport in Melfort until 2000 and then became active in the STS (Superannuated Teachers of Saskatchewan) Tisdale Chapter, becoming vice-president in 2002 and president in 2003. This was the first of many times he served as president.

During his time in the STS, Bob has become a go-to person when it comes to resolutions, background and of course, anything involving computers. He has been a delegate to the Provincial AGM at least four times, and has exercised his STF experience to spear-head projects undertaken by the Chapter. One of these projects produced the book,
“The School Districts: Tisdale School Division – a Compiled History”, published in 2005. Starting from some Division photos and a little history of schools, Chapter members worked together to compile the history. Bob edited and, with other executive members, compiled the book. It oversold its first printing and can now be found in digital form on the Tisdale STS site. Another project in 2013 was the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Tisdale Chapter. Again, Bob took part in planning the event, produced the program, made and framed beautiful certificates for the founding members and was essential in set-up and hosting.

Each time the executive meets for a planning session, Bob is there. He is one of the most committed members. He is also the author of the annual Tisdale STS Chapter newsletter which presents a retrospective of the past year’s events, a calendar of events to come and information for new retirees.

In addition to his very active part in the Tisdale Chapter of the STS, Bob has embraced community life in Tisdale. Raising children and devotion to the arts meant that Bob became involved with the Tisdale Lions Junior Band, serving as president of the Band Association from 1975 to 1978. The Tisdale Arts Council to this day benefits from his input and professional production of posters, show tickets and programs.

From their arrival in 1969, the Donnan family has been very involved with the Catholic Church and Bob has filled many leadership roles; he leads and inspires with his humility, faith, speaking skills, keen thought and strong family and community values.

Because the Tisdale Chapter of the STS regards Bob Donnan so highly, we would like to honour him with the first Award of Merit for the Tisdale Chapter of the STS.

Bob’s words of thanks were gracious and humble as he has always been. In the ensuing pictures in the Creekside gardens, he was still called upon to adjust cameras – which he did without a second thought – so typical of Bob Donnan.
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