The students who got in trouble and were dealt with by Leslie Coombs probably don’t have all fond memories of the former high school principal renowned for being a disciplinarian.
Those who really knew Mr. Coombs, though, also knew that the justice he meted out was likely fair and deserved.
Mr. Coombs, whose career as an educator spanned 41 years, died Tuesday at the Corner Brook Long-Term Care Centre at the age of 93.
He worked as vice-principal and principal at Amalgamated Regional High School in Corner Brook before advancing to become district superintendent of the Bay of Islands-St. George’s Integrated School Board, the job from which he retired.
He served on the provincial executive of the Newfoundland Teachers Association and also served as president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Superintendents of Education.
Boyce Hallett started working as a teacher under Mr. Coombs in 1961, shortly before he was promoted from vice-principal to principal. He said he enjoyed his time working under Mr. Coombs, recalling him as a kind and gentle person.
“If you went and discussed something with him, he would keep it in confidence and he would give you the best advice he could,” said Hallett. “Of course, I appreciated that.”
Mr. Coombs was known as a stickler for rules and regulations, added Hallett. If there was a rule in place, then he was going to enforce it.
“The students who may have experienced his particular type of discipline might have different opinions of him, but I always thought he was fair,” said Hallett. “If he saw something that wasn’t right, he told you and if he saw something you should be doing, he told you that too.”
Mr. Coombs carried that approach into his work as superintendent. Hallett said Mr. Coombs would not hold back in giving his opinion on how teachers should go about enhancing their own education and classroom techniques.
“He was a good guidance person in terms of helping you keep on a straight track and to do things in your own best interest,” said Hallett.
Outside the school setting, Mr. Coombs was a Free Mason, a member of the Corner Brook Lodge for 63 years and was a founding member of the Grand Lodge of Newfoundland and Labrador.
He also loved music and the outdoors, being an avid salmon angler and cross-country skier.
His funeral is scheduled for the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Corner Brook at 11 a.m.