Remembering Gerard O’Malley – an amazing man who touched us all

Written by Toni Lavigne-Conway | Special to the Valley Gazette

There are times when you have much to say, but the words are hard to find.

That is how I feel writing this tribute about one of the best people I have ever been blessed to know.
Family, friends, and the community at large are in mourning at the loss of Gerard Francis O’Malley who passed away on Feb. 21 and who in his 65 years on Earth, became a pillar in his community, an astute businessman, and an influential force who made an impact on so many people’s lives.

Born the youngest of 13 children to parents Margaret and Cecil O’Malley in the small hamlet of Rockingham, his siblings have fond memories of their baby brother as young boy.

Sister Faustina recalled that she and Gerard, “rode on the backs of calves, which daddy figured we would break, and horses; checked for baby calves in the middle of the night and on rainy days we played pretend in barn lofts. And he’d chase me with snakes because he knew they frightened me. We played together, fought together, laughed together, cried together, went through heartbreak together and supported each other through all our ups and downs.”

Sister Joan Cybulski said he was, “a special child from birth. When he came into the world on Feb. 14, 1959, I recall the overwhelming feeling of having a Valentine baby brother. He always wanted to raise chickens and after he was diagnosed with cancer, he made the decision to foster seven, of which two were roosters. As you know that caused a problem and they had to go. He was over the moon when the first eggs appeared.”

Sister Teresa Bourne said Gerard, was “kind, caring, compassionate, thoughtful, and affectionate with his siblings and their families. He was always pleasant, positive, and generous with his time.” And oldest sibling Helen McIntyre said, “Gerard was quiet, a nice boy; he’d sit on the stairs and just listen. He was the perfect example of a brother and a delight to be around.”

Brother Timmy remembers Gerard “as a good kid who helped in the bush, and spent time working, and skating on our homemade rink.” Sibling Dan agreed, saying, “Gerard was a jolly young fellow and happy when I got him his own dog, Brownie, and his first bicycle.” Oldest brother Hughie said that as a small boy, he would throw Gerard on the couch, calling him Jeronimo and that he’d laugh and bounce like a ball. “He was a good boy and fun to play with.”

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