Chris Perry had a Rocky start to university – and that was quite a good thing.
Perry, 19, a second-year music student at UPEI, recalls fondly meeting up with Robert “Rocky’’ Paquet upon first stepping foot in the Steel Building, home to the department of music.
“He just came up and shook my hand and said ‘I’m Rocky, who are you?’ And from there we started talking.’’
Paquet made a point of engaging with students throughout his long-time run as a service worker with UPEI’s facilities management department – a service which sadly came to a close with his death earlier this year on July 2, just shy of turning 61.
His special generosity of spirit was celebrated recently on campus in the Chaplaincy Centre.
Students and faculty, as well as friends and family members of Paquet, gathered to mark the occasion, which fittingly and intentionally coincided with GivingTuesday, a global movement for giving and volunteering, which takes place each year after Black Friday.
“To connect GivingTuesday to Rocky’s spirit is a really neat thing,’’ says UPEI chaplain Sr. Sue Kidd.
“He was a good soul.’’
To recognize Paquet’s indelible mark, a memorial award is being established in his name. It will be awarded annually to a returning UPEI student who possesses community-building spirit and has strong appreciation for music and small animals.
A plaque now hanging in the chaplain kitchen was also unveiled at the event. It reads: “This space is dedicated to the memory of Robert “Rocky’’ Paquet, a valued employee of UPEI for 26 years. His purpose and greatest enjoyment was serving students and offering them words of kindness. He was a tireless volunteer who made the UPEI campus a better place – students, faculty and staff will never forget him.’’
He says Paquet was a generous spirit who loved to help other people.
Paquet was well known for preparing exam-week chili lunches for students and handing out snacks and good cheer on a regular basis.
“He was a friend to all of us,’’ says Perry.
“Every student that he came across, he wanted to get to know them as well as he could and really be a friend for them – be there for them whenever he could be. It was wonderful.’’
Perry says Paquet never wanted to be in the limelight. He simply wanted to help make students have the best time they could while they attended UPEI.
“He probably did more for students than almost anyone who works here, even some of the profs, just because he would give so much to the students and care about them so much.”
“So I think this (memorial award) is a perfect way to honour him.’’
Kidd says Paquet helped students feel they belonged through his genuine, welcoming manner.
“I do miss him, I must say,’’ she says.
“I am blessed because I knew him and I will do everything I can to keep his spirit alive here on campus.’’