Reginald K. Groome, a leading Montrealer and for seven years Chair of Concordia's Board of Governors, died September 20 at the age of 71. The following is a tribute that was broadcast on CJAD by broadcaster and History Professor Graeme Decarie.
Yesterday, a part of Montreal history died. Older listeners will remember Reg Groome as the weekly radio voice of Montreal's Boy Scouts. Others will know his name as longtime manager of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel and as a highly respected figure in Montreal's business community. And I will remember him as my most striking lesson in not jumping to conclusions about people.
As a child, I saw him only once. It was at the Scout camp of Tamaracouta, and he was already, in my mind, one of those people way up there. Nor was I impressed at that meeting. I thought him cold and distant with the boys, just what one might expect of someone who was way up there, and that first impression remained with me for years.
Then, some years ago, there was a crisis at Concordia. Reg Groome was by then chairman of our Board of Governors, and I met with him several times to discuss it.
I had completely misunderstood him. Cold and distant didn't square with the life of this man who had poured himself into thousands of hours of volunteer work for Boy Scouts, for Concordia, and for uncounted community causes.
I realized what I had interpreted as coldness was shyness. I also learned he had a first-rate mind. He didn't need problems explained to him, just a quick outline. He had a better grasp of the problems than I did. No wonder, I thought, this man is so highly respected in the business community.
When he had the answer, he knew what had to be done, however disagreeable it might be, whatever enemies it might make him. That might look like coldness; what it was was a strong sense of honour and duty.
I came away from those meetings with a profound respect for Reg Groome, and a profound liking for him. Montreal has lost one of its truly great.