PORT HAWKESBURY- The Strait area and its community of veterans and soldiers now finds itself without one of its loudest and proudest voices, following the passing of John Roderick “Roddie” MacIsaac in late August.
MacIsaac, a former president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 43 and a key player in the development and promotion of Port Hawkesbury’s Veterans Memorial Park, passed away on August 27, only 12 days after celebrating his 82nd birthday.
With military service that included service as a United Nations peacekeeper in the early 1960s in Egypt and Germany as a member of the 8th Canadian Hussars Princess Louise regiment, MacIsaac was a natural for directing legion activities upon his return to the Strait area, according to long-time Branch 43 service officer and fellow past president Sylvester MacInnis.
“He had a good, loud, strong voice, and it was really good at giving out instructions for parades and stuff like that,” MacInnis said Monday morning.
“He certainly made himself available every Remembrance Day. A lot of the times in the early years, he used to be our parade marshal, and what he said, went.”
Neighbour and fellow peacekeeper Ron Beaton, whose own tour of duty took him to the Belgian Congo, relished his conversations with MacIsaac over the course of their 30-year friendship.
“He was very proud to be a veteran and to be involved in the military, and he wanted the legion to be run according to that,” Beaton explained. “He was very aware of protocol.”
Apart from his military service and dedication to Branch 43, MacIsaac was also prominent as Port Hawkesbury’s Emergency Measures Office (EMO) Coordinator. A co-founder of the Strait Area Fish and Game Association, MacIsaac directed his love of the outdoors and his desire to share it with others towards a 40-year tenure as instructor for federal firearms and hunter-safety programs.
“Roddie certainly gave back,” declared MacInnis, who has known MacIsaac for over 60 years. “I always felt he was quite a gentleman. He liked to stretch the truth sometimes – if he wanted to tell a little joke or something, he would always stretch it a little further. But he was a good fellow, all the way around.”
Today, as Branch 43 members plan their first Remembrance Day ceremonies without MacIsaac’s distinctive voice, Beaton is one of many who are mourning the loss of his long-time neighbour.
“I was just out on the deck, and our decks almost touch each other, and I was thinking about how strange it is that I wasn’t going to see him or see what was going on over there,” Beaton told The Reporter Monday morning. “We miss him terribly.”
Funeral services for MacIsaac were carried out August 31 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Port Hawkesbury.