TANJUNG ARU – Not only has the late Brother Chales O’Leary a building named after him while he was still alive, he has also now a road renamed in memory of him.
Jalan Murni, the stretch of road from Tanjung Aru leading to La Salle Secondary School, has been renamed Jalan Datuk Brother Charles M O’Leary, in honour of the late Irish La Salle Brother who dedicated most of his life to education in Sabah.
Brother Charles died last year on Dec 24, Christmas Eve, aged 87, of stroke around 7:30 am while trying to get into his car after Mass at Stella Maris Tanjung Aru.
The push to have Jalan Murni renamed came from the ex-students. The idea actually came from Daily Express Chief Editor James Sarda, when the body of the late Brother was lying in state in the school hall, according to Ho Kin Wong, chairman of the La Salle School Board of Management.
Ho said that Sarda suggested having the road leading to the school named after Brother Charles and ex-principal Julia Jock who was present agreed. She suggested that since there are no new roads, it could take the form of renaming Jalan Murni.
Ho then raised the idea with the Board and all agreed. “I asked Deputy Board Chairman Melvin Desimond (CEO of KKIP) to draft a letter to Pairin. Barry Bullah delivered the letter to Pairin who, in turn, sent it to former Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir. Abidin returned the letter to Pairin saying, ‘The road is yours because it is a JKR road,’ he said.
The ceremony was held on 15 March 2016, officiated by YB TSDP Joseph Pairin Kitingan, an old boy of the school. The old boys wanted to hold the renaming ceremony on La Salle Day on May 15 but Pairin said he did not want to wait so long. So everything was done within three months.
Four years ago, the school named its three-storey administrative block the ‘Brother Charles O’Leary Centre’. Brother Charles felt rather embarrassed about it but the organisers wanted to honour him while he was still alive and felt the time was right.
Brother Charles was the last of the three pioneer Brothers who took over Sacred Heart Secondary School founded by the Mill Hill Missionaries in January 1958. The school was renamed La Salle Secondary School in May that year. He was principal of the school from 1969 to 1985.
During his tenure, it was all-round development for the students with strong emphasis on achieving academic excellence while paying attention to sports and games, dramas, culture and other co-curricular activities as well as character formation in the tradition of nurturing the students to be “A Scholar, A Gentleman and A Sportsman.”
The late Brother initiated the formation of the La Salle Tripartite Partners in Education: Association of Ex Students of La Salle and Sacred Heart (1963), Parent-Teacher Association (1977) and the Board of Management for both La Salle and Sacred Heart Schools (1977).
He also promoted the Student Parliament which started in 1965 by playing an active role as the President from 1967 to 1985.
He continued his predecessor’s (Bro Raphael Egan) school expansion and development and was responsible for
– Perimeter fencing at the Junior and Senior Campus
– the three storey administrative block
– the senior school canteen
– La Salle Senior School Hall (blessed by Bishop Simon Fung in 1983)
– Language Lab and Audio-Visual Room
– Bro Raphael Egan Archives.
(adapted from various sources)