Pictou Rotary club pays tribute to Art MacDonald, presents awards

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BRAESHORE — It was a night of humour and reverence — and a few surprises — as the Rotary Club of Pictou  celebrated its 75th anniversary and honoured 50-year club member Art MacDonald.

Members of MacDonald’s family — four generations — joined him for tributes paid to Art MacDonald in the areas of education, health care, church, politics, family and Rotary.

MacDonald said he could not argue with any of the accolades directed his way.

“It’s so refreshing to hear the truth in this Trump-era,” he joked.

It was also his first opportunity to meet his great-granddaughter, Everly, daughter of Brody Caggiula and his wife Lindsay.

MacDonald said he did not expect as many members of the family to be present, including grandson Drake Caggiula, who flew in for the weekend from his training regimen after completing his rookie NHL season with the Edmonton Oilers.

Diane Vaughan remembered MacDonald as a teacher and principal.

“He was my history teacher in Grade 8,” she said. “He not only taught me to like history, but also to respect each other.”

MacDonald was cited by Dr. Randy Burrill for his commitment to the Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital and his work to add the Northumberland Veterans Wing as a way to preserve services there.

His commitment to family was saluted by several family members.

“My grandfather was always there for me, whether it was school, sports or life,” Drake Caggiula said.

Former MP Peter MacKay hailed MacDonald’s devotion to politics. He recalled MacDonald’s insistence that Pictou have a campaign headquarters during federal elections.

“This was more about participation than partisanship,” MacKay said. “Art was the oracle of the Conservative Party.”

Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane, who was unable to attend, noted MacDonald’s dedication to the former Sears outlet on Front Street before it closed.

“I don’t think Art retired,” she said in her tribute. “Sears did. He’s still there.”

Rev. Mary-Beth Moriarty saluted MacDonald’s ongoing work for Pictou United Church, which made him an honorary elder at its 2018 annual general meeting.

“Art is one of those people you treasure in a community.” she said. “Art sets a high standard for himself and those around him.”

Fellow club member Murray Hill cited the rapport he has had with MacDonald during the 35 years he has been with the club.

“For 50 years, Art’s presence has been impactful to our club,” Hill said.

Besides honouring MacDonald, the club honoured one of its members, Heather Murphy, with the True Rotarian Award.

Paul Harris Fellowships were presented to outgoing club president Roger Plamondon, as well as Helen Scammell and Nina Davey.

Art MacDonald, left, was congratulated by fellow Rotarian Murray Hill on his 50 years of service to the Rotary Club of Pictou during President’s Night on Thursday that helped mark the club’s 75th anniversary. (Goodwin photo)

INSET: Special awards were presented during President’s Night that coincided with the Rotary Club of Pictou’s 75th anniversary. From left are Paul Harris Fellowship recipient Helen Scammell, True Rotarian recipient Heather Murphy and Paul Harris Fellowship recipient Nina Davey and outgoing club president Roger Plamondon. (Goodwin photo)