North Grenville has lost a great member of the community and a true friend to all.
Dr. Patrick (Pat) Babin passed away peacefully on June 12 in his 89th year at Winchester Hospital. Pat was an exceptional community volunteer, and greatly involved with the Friends of the North Grenville Public Library (FNGPL). The group has supported the Library through its transition into the new centralized building in 2011, and has continued to support its services and programming since. It is thanks to the dedicated group of volunteers and Pat, that the Library continues to offer so much quality content and programming.
Pat decided to pursue his education in teaching, which eventually brought him to the University of Ottawa. Although Pat got his PhD in Curriculum Theory and Pedagogy from Ottawa U, he also studied at many other notable universities, including the University of Maine, University of Massachusetts and Harvard University.
Pat worked as a professor at the University of Ottawa for more than thirty years. A former student and long-time friend, Roberta Russell, says Pat was an extremely encouraging professor. “If he saw something in an article he thought would interest you, he’d let you know,” she says. “He was someone you kept in touch with.”
When Pat retired, he decided to move to Kemptville to be closer to many of his friends. In his retired life he was looking for a new challenge. He started volunteering at Holy Cross Catholic School at their breakfast club, and then at the Kemptville District Hospital. “That still wasn’t enough for him,” remembers friend George Gouthro, who met him through his wife when he was volunteering at Holy Cross.
It was then that Pat found a cause, which was the Library. In 2004, Pat saw an opportunity and leapt into action, researching everything there was to know about Friends of the Library groups, both locally and nation-wide.
The FNGPL has flourished over the years into a volunteer organization that helps breathe vitality and life into the Library. In 2011, the group was honoured nationally. Pat was instrumental in putting together the book that they used to submit the application that got them the national recognition. “I like to say Pat was like a dog with a bone,” says current NGPL CEO Rachel Brown. “He did not give up until he had achieved what he had set his mind to.”
Pat also introduced the annual book fair that benefitted both the NGPL and Community Living North Grenville. There is hardly an organization in town that Pat hasn’t volunteered for. Not only was he the force behind FNGPL, he also sat on the Library Board for many years.
He also played a role in organizing the annual OPP BBQ that raises close to $1000 for the Library every summer. He has volunteered for the Salvation Army, the Dandelion Festival and was a member of the Executive of the Friends of the Ferguson Forest Centre. He also used his love of trivia to create “Trivial Pursuit” activities for seniors, which he facilitated at Orchard Walk Retirement Community in Manotick, Bayfied Manor in Kemptville, and Kemptville and District Home Support.
Marguerite Boyer of the North Grenville Times was close with Pat and has many fond memories working with him on many community projects. “We worked well together (when we weren’t bickering) putting together newsletters, posters, many hours of helping me proofread the newspaper, there is a long list of projects he involved me in,” she wrote on Facebook after learning of his passing. “He is also the one that encouraged me to get into the newspaper business.”
Pat changed the fabric of this community. He touched the hearts of everyone he met. Kemptville would not be the place it is today without the dedication of Dr. Patrick Babin, and it won’t be the same without him. As Roberta says, he was “here, there and everywhere.” No one would have it any other way.