Ex-La Salle Tanjung Aru principal passes away

KOTA KINABALU: Former La Salle Tanjung Aru principal, Brother Datuk Charles Michael O’Leary died Thursday morning shortly after attending daily morning mass at Stella Maris Church in Tanjung Aru here.

He was 87.

The well-known educationist was found dead beside his car at about 8am Thursday.

He is believed to have suffer a fatal stroke.

According fellow La Salle Brother Peter Foo, Charles had gone to the daily 6am mass at Stella Maris church and was the last to leave at about 7.30am.

“No one saw him collapse near his car. A newspaperman who turned up at about 8am spotted him and immediately informed the staff at the church,’’ he said, adding that police were called in before his body was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for medical examination.

Brother Charles was the last surviving member of the pioneer group of La Salle Brothers who came to Borneo in the 1950s and he served as principal of La Salle here between 1969 –1986.

He had the honour of being teacher to three Chief Ministers, two from Sabah - Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan (now Deputy Chief Minister) and Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, from Sarawak, who is currently the State’s Governor.

He had taught Tun Taib Mahmud when he was posted to St Joseph’s school in Kuching for seven years before coming to Sabah in the 1960s.

Former Sabah Governor Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah was also among his students. Many other students have gone on to become prominent members and leaders in politics, government and business. Following his retirement, he was actively involved in Benildus House, where students from outside Kota Kinabalu stayed to pursue their education at secondary school.

Brother Foo said that the tentative funeral arrangements would be made after Christmas as they would place his body at the Fook Liew Siew funeral parlour over Chrisrmas and were planning to place bring his body to the school for all to pay their last respects from Dec 27.

“This is still tentative a tentative plan, arrangements will be made after Christmas,’’ he said.