I hope my eulogy of Mr Brian Hubert Foenander captures the essence of his personality, primarily as a great teacher and it is with so much sadness we, the ACSians, have to say farewell to him.
Undoubtedly, Mr Brian has indeed left an indelible mark on many of his students, colleagues and hockey players. Integrity, responsibility, respect and discipline: these are all the qualities that he not only held in high esteem, but practised them every day in the classroom and on the hockey field.
He was truly a great teacher at Ipoh Anglo Chinese School (ACS) where he taught English for decades. Though only a college-trained teacher, he knew his stuff and prepared well and able to explain clearly to his students.
What made him a remarkable teacher was his unwavering commitment and dedication to the teaching profession – his approach was always student-centered. As a principal then, I was much impressed by his passion and love for the school. More importantly, I noticed he had a special charisma to relate to students.
Being a hostel teacher (popularly known by his moniker “Boarding Master” (BM)), the school was truly his first home. He was a father to many hostel students whose parents faithfully trusted him to look after their children, even the Rancangan Khas Malay students.
When he was frail and wheelchair-bound, among the endless stream of his ex-colleagues and former students dropping in to visit him, was a Malay family who tearfully hugged him for his care and love for the students.
Mr Brian was a well-known state hockey player. So naturally he was tasked to be the hockey teacher. Certainly, he did not disappoint the school – he not only made ACSians proud of being champions all the time but produced many state and national hockey players with the likes of Nor Saiful Zaini, Karpal Singh and Dato’ Poon Fook Loke, who led the team to the semi-final in the World Cup Competition at the Merdeka Stadium, resulting in Malaysia being ranked 4th in the World.
Like me, he was a great believer in discipline – it might sound cliché to many teachers. But Mr Brian, as a discipline teacher, was a no-nonsense person. Albeit often using the cane as the last resort, he was also extremely patient in dealing with problem students. After repeated counselling failed, he would not hesitate to use the rod.
It was difficult to imagine Mr Brian not being present at every annual alumni dinner. He was like a celebrity with whom most old boys and girls (former sixth formers) would pose for photos. And some of course would take every opportunity to toast with him.
Unlike many retirees, he had an inherent love for hunting, and he had always found time to go hunting wild boars and shared his spoils with friends.
My lasting memories of Mr Brian are simple: a hard-working 24-7 teacher who never waned in his passion for teaching – a God-fearing man who had fought a good fight, finished his race and kept his faith.
Thomas KokIpoh Learning & Training Institute