This week I attended the funeral of my colleague Gregory Scott.
There was lots of shared laughter about some of Gregory’s strange, strange ways. There was lots of giggling about his love of really terrible dad-jokes. There was lots of nodding about Gregory’s kindness and helpfulness. There was lots of affirmation about Gregory’s integrity and the importance of his faith to him. There was a table of dodgy ties and we were allowed to take one to remember Gregory by.
It was a really good send off.
But it was way too soon to say goodbye.
Gregory worked for the Research Division at Otago for 15 years. He worked mainly in the Graduate Research area and he was pivotal in developing smooth administration through his database Achievers.
Otago was the envy of other New Zealand universities. We knew how many PhD candidates we had at any one time, who was deferred, who was under exam, who had changed supervisor 17 times (me!). It may seem obvious that we should know this stuff, but obvious and the real world don’t always go hand-in-hand. Gregory made what should happen actually happen.
Gregory was happy to poke fun at himself. He reveled in corny jokes and the day he showed up for our Christmas-do dressed up as a nerd (or more of a nerd, as he would have it) summed up his spirit of fun.
Gregory and I would have long conversations about new technology, big data, disastrous IT projects as well as excellent ones. He would tolerate my deviations into discussions about diplomacy and different communication styles when all he really wanted to talk about was systems solutions.
Gregory died after a four year battle with bowel cancer. He fought hard against this ghastly disease and he never seemed to waiver in his optimism about his prognosis.
The day Gregory told me his cancer had returned I got upset. He gave me a hug to comfort me. You could see it pained him to have to do it but he manned-up and did it anyway.
In all the time he was sick I never heard him complain about his health. One hears this being said of people and one tends to think it’s an exaggeration. With Gregory it was utterly true. He stoically put up with invasive nasty treatments, with the side-effects of chemo, with the tiredness, and the discomfort.
Gregory was dedicated to his work, dedicated to his family, dedicated to helping people and dedicated to God.
Gregory, you will be missed.
Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School