To the editor of THE EAGLE:
Robert Gallant’s passing on Jan. 27 reminded me of how much influence he had on me when he taught industrial arts at the then-called South Junior High. It was such a great time being taught by him and I learned so much.
At a recent PEDA presentation to the Dalton Redevelopment Authority, I commented on what I learned in middle school verses what’s being taught today and how that affected students then. The conversation was about making our community more aware of the opportunities in manufacturing and exposing students at middle school level to career choices in manufacturing. Among other things, Mr. Gallant taught me how to make an aluminum candle holder and a screwdriver.
Regarding the candle holder, we had to make a wooden model of the holder on a lathe, build a sand mold to make a negative shape from the wooden holder into the sand, separate the mold and take the wooden model out, then pour molten aluminum into the mold to make a rough part that we finished in a turning lathe. (I still have that part) I often wonder how much that influenced me in finding a career in manufacturing because today I’m involved with manufacturing in the plastics industry.
Mr. Gallant loved to teach. He would have this little laugh when a student finally understood what he was teaching and the proof in the pudding was the result of what each of us manufactured. He would rock back on his heals with a huge smile of approval when he saw our joy from learning. In later years, I saw him often at the "Y". He always showed an interest in me and my life because I did end up making things for a living and he wanted to know about the latest in manufacturing.
When I read that he donated his body to the UMass Medical Center, I immediately got the connection; he wanted his body to be yet another teaching tool for the students. He gave his all to the world to the very end.
Thank you, Bob, for the love you had for us and the influence you had on me. I’m so much better for having known you. I’m betting you were met at the gates with a teaching lifetime achievement award.
The writer is COO/chairman Apex Resource Technologies, Inc.