In Memory of Roland Lecomte
It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Roland Lecomte, on Friday, December 4, 2020 at the age of 86. Visionary, accomplished academic, founder and director of the School of Social Work at the University of Ottawa, generous and inspiring professor, committed leader who brought people together, warm and generous family man, Roland touched the lives of all those who had the privilege of knowing him. We acknowledge his exceptional contribution to the social service profession and his profound commitment towards Franco-Ontarians and the elderly. We will cherish his memory forever.
Eldest of a family of 14 children, Roland was born on May 15, 1934 in Amos, Quebec. He completed his classical studies at Rouyn College under the direction of Oblates. He then obtained a B.A. and a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) at the University of Ottawa between 1958 and 1962. Determined, he then left his native country for the United States with his wife to start his career as a university professor and obtained his Ph.D. in Social Work and Social Research from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania in 1975. As he often said, for a humble guy from Abitibi, it was quite the challenge and a turning point in his career.
Roland had a long and fruitful academic career. After a few years teaching at Wayne State University and Bryn Mawr College in the United States between 1966 and 1971, he then taught for a few years at the University of Montreal as an assistant professor. Afterwards, he continued his career at Carleton University as a long-time director and associate professor for fifteen years. In 1990, with the help of a dynamic and committed team, he founded a School of Social Work in French at the University of Ottawa. It was the first full-time French graduate program in this field in Ontario. He was its first director and taught there as a full professor until 1998.Thanks to this program, many generations of social workers were able to be trained in French, which helped improve access to social services for the Franco-Ontarian community. From 1998 to 2006, he coordinated and actively participated in the implementation of the interdisciplinary minor in gerontology at this same university.
During his career, he was also a sought-after conference speaker, an organizer of seminars and conferences, a member of editorial boards and editor of social work journals, as well as the author of books and many scientific publications in both French and English. He was also president of the Canadian and Ontario Associations of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work.
Roland always believed in strong ties between the university and the community. As such, in addition to his academic contributions, he played a significant role at the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work, at the Ontario Association of Social Workers, and at the Centre psycho-social pour enfants et familles d’Ottawa-Carleton in Vanier. He provided strong leadership in the implementation of the Research Institute on Health and Aging (Elizabeth Bruyère and University of Ottawa). He was an executive member of the Ontario Interdisciplinary Council on Aging and Health and of the Seniors Advisory Council of Ottawa. Finally, he was a seniors representative on the Inclusion and Equity Task Force (City of Ottawa) and was director/vice-president/president of the Ottawa Council on Aging of Ottawa for many years.
He was also honoured many times throughout his career : a recognition award from the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa for his contribution and dedication, French School of Social Work; the Margaret Griffiths Award and honourary life membership of the Council on Aging of Ottawa for his contribution to the improvement of the quality of life of seniors; the Betsy Touzel Award from l’ATTSO for his remarkable contribution, Lifetime Achievement Award in Social Work; and an honourary life membership from the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work for his important contributions to social work education in Canada. The Faculty of Social Sciences and the French School of Social Work at the University of Ottawa have also created the Roland Lecomte Scholarship, which has been given for many years, as a reminder of the the School’s mission and the aspirations of its first director.
As such, it is impossible to honour Roland without acknowledging his exceptional contribution to the social work profession and his profound commitment towards Franco-Ontarians and seniors which he took to heart. Recognized for his promotion of social services in French, he was ever-present at the regional and provincial levels. He was a prominent figure, a pioneer, a speaker, a spokesperson who was recognized for his open-mindedness, his ability to see bigger, his quiet and peaceful force, and his collaborative and respectful leadership. He was also a role model and an inspiration for many generations of students and colleagues.
Roland is survived by his life partner Nicole, whom he deeply loved for 56 years and who he enjoyed playing golf with, his son Pierre (Mandie Bzdell), his daughter Josée (Nicolas Prince) and his cherished grandson Alexandre, all of whom benefited tremendously from his love and presence in their lives.
Predeceased by his parents, Ernest and Juliette, his sisters Pauline and Lucie (the late Gilles Cusson), and his brothers Gérard and Jean-Guy (Claire Bourdeau). He is survived by his brothers René (Lucie Beaudette), Conrad (Claire Provencher), Bernard (Monique Limoges) and his sisters Anasha, Monique (Jean-Pierre Thivierge), Diane (the late Jean-Claude Gagnon), Micheline, Marie-Marthe (Ali Saboui), Jeanne, his sisters-in-law Diane, Pierrette and Hélène Bourbonnais, many nieces and nephews, as well as many friends, colleagues and neighbours.
Sincere thanks to Dr. Vincent, Dr. Rioux and Dr. Plantive as well as the entire LHIN palliative care team for their dedication and their constant support at the end of Roland’s life. We are very grateful.
Due to Covid-19, a traditional funeral service is not possible at this time. However, a virtual ceremony for family, friends, and colleagues will take place in the coming months. If you wish to be invited, please contact us at the following address: Roland.Lecomte.Ceremonie@gmail.com.
In preference to flowers, the Lecomte family invites you to make donations. If you wish to do so, you can dedicate them to the Roland Lecomte Scholarship (University of Ottawa) or to the Council on Aging of Ottawa:
Roland Lecomte scholarship:
You can make a donation online at alumni.uottawa.ca/donation-form and designate your gift to “Roland Lecomte Scholarship”. For a print version, you can also visit the website alumni.uottawa.ca/donation-form and search under the last name Lecomte. If you have any questions, you can call (613) 218-6326. This scholarship recognizes the work of a student who has developed a research-intervention program for French Communities.
The Council on Aging of Ottawa (indicate that it is in memory of Roland) :
Online at: www.coaottawa.ca or by cheque to: 217-815 St-Laurent Blvd., Ottawa, ON, K1K 3A7.
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