Many local residents and graduates of Banting Memorial High School will remember Larry Keogh as a long time teacher, vice principal, and principal at the local school, as well as his time as Mayor of New Tecumseth.
Outside of his school and political life, he has been an active volunteer and made tremendous contributions to the Town.
Mr. Keogh has been honoured as the New Tecumseth Senior of the Year for 2021, for his lifetime of service in the community.
He got his start in the working world at the research lab at Ontario Hydro for around seven years after graduating from University.
After moving back to the area he took a teaching job at St. James Catholic School in Colgan where he had one of his first volunteer experiences.
“I convinced the Adjala Council to install some lights at the tennis courts,” Mr. Keogh explained. “That was around 1960. They agreed as long as I would maintain them. So when a light went out I would get out the ladder and go up the pole - that was interesting. We used to keep the racquets on the back porch so people could sign them out when they wanted to play.”
In addition to teaching a grade seven class, he taught phys ed and history, and he actually drove the school bus because the parish owned the bus company.
After his start in teaching at St. James, he moved to Banting to continue his career.
“I taught one year in Colgan then spent 30 years trying to graduate from Banting,” he quipped.
At Banting, he was hired in the phys ed department, then moved to the geography department for several years before becoming a guidance councillor. He then became a vice-principal, and finally principal of the high school – a position he held for 11 years.
After retiring from education, and spending a few years travelling, Mr. Keogh decided to toss his hat the political ring.
“I thought if I did a good job as principal, maybe I should run for mayor.”
He completed two terms as mayor.
As mayor he became a member of the physician recruitment team at Stevenson, a position he retired from just over a year ago, and during his time there they recruited over 70 doctors to the area.
When the local arts facility, the Gibson Centre, was being planned, Mr. Keogh took over the presidency partway through the refurbishing of the building, and was the president when it opened.
When St. Paul's Catholic Church was being built, Mr. Keogh was an active participant in the building design.
“I helped the planning,” Mr. Keogh explained. “We visited six other churches to come up with an appropriate model. I was at the church almost every day during construction, as I was coordinator of the work there. We opened the church in 1992. It took nine months from when we turned the sod to when we had our first service. My wife and kids cleaned the church for the first three years before we hired a care taker – that's the kind of money we were trying to save. I've been on the finance committee at the church for a number of years.”
The Senior of the Year award, came as a bit of a surprise to Mr. Keogh.
“I only knew about when I got a call from the Town saying I was nominated.”
He didn't seek any recognition for his volunteer work.
“I just like to do my work - a lot of the time I work behind the scenes. I felt very honoured, especially since there are so many volunteers doing so much work.”
He cites his time as principal at the high school as one of his 'best times,' as well as noting the projects he was able to complete as mayor as a satisfying personal experience.
Mr. Keogh is still very active in the community and in his personal life and keeps busy.
As Senior of the Year for 2021, his contributions to the town recognize his volunteer efforts and other contributions he has made over many years.
Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times