BIBLE HILL – This community is in mourning after the passing of a staple at the former Nova Scotia Agricultural College.
Dr. Bernie MacDonald, former vice-president administration and co-president of the college, passed away Tuesday night at the age of 66.
Jim Goit met MacDonald during the mid-1990s and said he was a “great guy.”
“He was very thorough and knew business, the agricultural college and government,” said Goit, who also worked with MacDonald at the AC from the late-1990s until they both retired last year.
“He was your go-to guy when you wanted to get something done. If you had Bernie in your corner, you succeeded.”
MacDonald started as the vice-president of administration at the college in 1994 and worked on a number of projects throughout his career.
“He was responsible for the financial matters, and probably as much as anyone he was responsible in helping sort the money when it came to completing major infrastructure,” said Goit. “He was always in the background.”
Goit said one of the MacDonald’s biggest accomplishments at the AC would have been the Atlantic Poultry Centre, a three-phase project consisting of construction of teaching facilities, an upgrade of the Chute Nutrition Centre and the construction of a hatchery.
“And Bernie was always down to making sure everyone had all the tools they needed to get their jobs done. He had a real feel for what people needed to do their work.”
The former co-president was also proud of the construction of the walking trail across from the campus, which was a community effort.
MacDonald was born and raised in Shubenacadie and spent many of his early years on his uncle’s dairy farm.
He married his wife of 42 years, Ann, and together they had two children and six grandchildren.
“He was a great family man,” said Goit. “He always had a story about them and we always loved his stories.
“He had stories about almost anything, too. We shared an interest in old cars, rural Nova Scotia and farm life. I think it’s just his stories we will miss the most.”
Nova Scotia’s agriculture minister John MacDonell expressed his sadness yesterday afternoon upon hearing of MacDonald’s passing.
“Bernie was a true gentleman with a passion for the benefits of agricultural education and a gift for inspiring his staff and students,” MacDonell said.
MacDonald was acting principal of the agricultural college for about nine months in the late-1990s and was named co-president, along with Dr. Leslie MacLaren, in 2007. Before beginning at the agricultural college, MacDonald taught for nearly 20 years at the Nova Scotia Teachers College, as well as many years as a secondary teacher.
Last spring’s 107th convocation at the agricultural college was his last, as he officially retired in June.
He had a love of model trains and spent about 35 years as a member of the Truro Model Railroaders Association and was often found at the association’s annual fall show.
Upon retiring last spring, MacDonald was looking forward to spending time with Ann, whether camping or RVing, as well as his children and grandchildren.
No details have been announced regarding funeral arrangements, as the MacDonald family is waiting for a son to return from Australia.
Flags at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus, which took over the Nova Scotia Agricultural College on July 1, will be lowered to half-mast in MacDonald’s honour.