Yesterday the St. Bonaventure’s College community was shocked with the sudden passing of our President, Mr. Tom McGrath. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Keli Jo and his family.

President McGrath was our leader, our mentor, our champion and our friend. He loved St. Bon’s and worked hard to help all of us to reach our full potential. He will be greatly missed by everyone.

The full obituary can be found here:

President McGrath led a full life. Below is a bio he drafted himself:


(Lieutenant Colonel) Thomas F. McGrath, O.M.M., M.S.M. C.D., B.A., B. Ed., M. Ed.

Early Life

Born in Trenton New Jersey, Mr. McGrath was raised and educated in St. John’s.  He is a 1975 honours graduate from Gonzaga, a Jesuit high school.

A graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland, Mr. McGrath holds a Bachelor of Arts (History and Economic Geography), Bachelor of Education (Secondary Social Studies) and a Master of Education (Educational Administration).  He is a graduate of the 4th Annual Short Course in Educational Leadership from the Faculty of Education at Memorial.

Career in Education

He began his full time teaching career in 1981 at Gonzaga High School as a Social Studies / Learning Resources teacher.  He also served as Co-op Law Program Coordinator (1991-1993) and Social Studies Department Head (1998-1999).

From 1985-1989 he was the Assistant to the Principal at Gonzaga, responsible for fundraising, alumni affairs, parent’s association and special projects. During his tenure, Mr. McGrath conceptualized and successfully ran the school’s major fundraising campaign, Leif the Lucky.  He also served as Co-Director, Gonzaga High School Alumni Association and with others, organized the school’s 25th Anniversary celebrations.

Beginning in 1991 he created, authored and coordinated the Co-op Law Program for high achieving grade 12 students including the successful preparation of a grant proposal to the federal government for $300K to operate the program for 3 years.  He provided province-wide professional development for teachers in social studies and co-operative education.  He raised funds to enhance programming for the social studies department and he piloted many new courses in the high school social studies program.  The Co-op Law Program won a 1993 National Award for Excellence in Business-Education Partnerships for Elementary-Secondary Schools (Newfoundland) sponsored by the Conference Board of Canada.  For his leadership in program design and delivery he was awarded the prestigious Roy C. Hill Charitable Foundation and Canadian Teachers’ Federation National Hilroy Fellowship (Great Merit), 1993 for innovative curriculum design.

From 1993-2011 he served as the Assistant Principal, except for two years, one when he served as Principal and one when he returned to the classroom to teach. His responsibilities included staff professional and school development, administrative operations including program development, Advanced Placement Program, media relations, partnerships, discipline, etc.  During these years he created, designed and authored the Co-op Media Program, and the accompanying proposal for a $300K grant from the federal government to operate and establish a TV production facility.

He conceived and designed a Legacy Fund to raise funds for school program enhancements. He successfully negotiated a technology initiative with SUN Microsystems and he produced seven highly successful school musicals netting approximately $120K for the school.

During this time the Co-op Media Program was awarded the 2002 Atlantic Provinces Best Business-Education Partnership by the Conference Board of Canada and Mr. McGrath was awarded the Gonzaga High School, Alumnus-of-the-Year in 1998 where he was cited for exceptional leadership in education and the not for profit sector.

In 2009-2010 he completed a one-year mandate at Gonzaga serving as Principal.  During the year he was able to achieve institutional leadership success by negotiating a partnership with Memorial University to establish a concurrent studies program for high achieving grade 12 students so they could complete university credit courses.  He created a culture of “giving” amongst parents by establishing a Parents’ Association with the mandate to raise funds for the school. He retired from teaching in 2011.

Military Service

Following service as an Army Cadet he enrolled in the Canadian Forces Reserve in 1977 with the Cadet Instructors List.  In 1980 he assumed command of 2415 Gonzaga Army Cadet Corps leading then to six, first place finishes as the top Army Cadet Corps in the province.  Concurrent with command he was employed and promoted to a variety of senior staff positions, culminating with appointment as Commanding Officer, Atlantic Region Army Cadet Training Center, Camp Argonaut 1988-1991 at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, N.B.  Following this successful tour of duty, he was appointed Commandant, The Royal Canadian Army Cadet Marksmanship Team, leading them to international competition at the world renowned Bisley Meeting in the U.K.  In 1991 he was awarded a Maritime Commander’s Commendation for exceptional service, one of the first awarded to a Cadet Instructor Cadre Officer and in 2003 a Region Commander’s Commendation.

To celebrate Canada’s 125th anniversary in 1992, LCol McGrath began Cadets Caring for Canada, a province-wide environmental initiative for the cadets in Newfoundland and Labrador.  In the following years it grew to be the largest one-day environmental initiative in Canada.  Working with a team, the program expanded across Canada, receiving $2.18 million funding from the federal government’s Youth Strategy to promote and run thousands of projects.  This initiative heightened the public profile across Canada for cadets as environmental stewards.

In 2002, LCol McGrath was appointed an Officer of the Order of Military Merit (O.M.M.) by Her Excellency, The Governor General, which recognized outstanding meritorious service in duties of responsibility.

In addition, he received the Robert I. Hendy Award. The Hendy Award is the Navy League of Canada’s most prestigious award and is intended to recognize the efforts of an individual who has accomplished a feat of achievement of national or international significance in the area of Maritime affairs or youth development.

He served successively as the Area Cadet Instructor Cadre Officer (Army) Newfoundland and Labrador, Region Advisor (Atlantic) and Chair of the region branch council.  In 2006, the Chief of Reserves and Cadets appointed LCol McGrath as the Canadian Forces’ Branch Advisor (Cadet Instructors Cadre) and served as the primary military advisor and champion to Canadian Forces senior leadership on recruiting, enrolment, retention, training, education, pay, benefits and espirit de corps for 7,500 Canadian Forces officers across Canada charged with the supervision, administration and training of 50,000 cadets.

He was initially appointed for a three-year period and was extended to serve a fourth year.  He provided exceptional institutional leadership with numerous achievements.  He nurtured espirit de corps in membership by establishing and leading a 100th Anniversary Committee to organize national celebrations.  He provided strategic advice on expansion of branch membership to include retiring regular force personnel.  A committee under his chairmanship established a national employer recognition program.  He created and helped lead a national initiative to raise funds for the anniversary and the creation of a lifetime achievement award for members.  He created unifying symbols for the branch members.

In recognition of these accomplishments he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (M.S.M.) by His Excellency, The Governor General. The citation read: “As Branch Advisor for the Cadet Instructors Cadre from 2006 to 2010, Lieutenant-Colonel McGrath oversaw numerous high-profile events across Canada to celebrate the branch’s centenary, as well as the creation of several unifying symbols for the branch. Thanks to his visionary leadership, the successful events generated considerable public interest and brought great credit to the Cadet program and to the Canadian Forces. His dedicated personal efforts have had an enduring impact on the esprit de corps of the Cadet Instructors Cadre.”

From 2011-2013, Lieutenant Colonel McGrath was employed as Subject Matter Expert (SME), Leadership and Command working with a team to design, develop and author a qualification program for aspiring Lieutenant Colonels, preparing them to command large unit operations.  Concurrently he served as a Mentor to a group of select students completing a qualification program for aspiring senior military officers.  This included advising, counselling, and coaching students on all aspects of leadership, command, management, logistics, finance, human resources and ethics.

Since 2013, Lieutenant Colonel McGrath has been employed as a Special Projects Officer, completing assignments for the Commanding Officer, Regional Cadet Support Unit (Atlantic).  He is the process of retiring after 42 years of service to the Canadian Forces.

Volunteer Service – The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award

In addition to his career in education and service with the Canadian Forces, Mr. McGrath has found time to dedicate over 38 years of volunteer service to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program at the local, provincial, national and international levels.  Following many years served as a Board member and Vice-President with the Newfoundland and Labrador, Provincial Council, he assumed the Provincial Presidency in 1993, having served on the Governance, Finance, Marketing and Human Resources Committees.

During his seven-year tenure as President he led the reorganization to establish standing committees, renewed financial accountability and governance practice.  During this time, he provided the leadership in establishing programs for (1) special needs students in provincial high schools, (2) Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Centre (Whitbourne – young offenders), and (3) aboriginal youth in Labrador.  The Council raised the funds to establish a provincial office and to hire permanent staff and they increased youth participation and awards earned year over year between 3% – 10%.

He joined the Canadian Board of the Award in 1993, serving for many years on Standing Committees including, Governance, Finance, Human Resources, Marketing, Award Standards and Nominations.   In 2006, he was elected Vice-President of the Canadian Board of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and in 2007 became the Canadian President.

He served a 3-year term as Board Chairman and President. Responsible for oversight of ten provincial / territorial divisions, national office, 36,000 participants. During his tenure the National Board successfully negotiated two significant partnerships between the Award and Scouts Canada and the cadet program in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  The program completed the full implementation of the national branding strategy.  The national award membership grew annually by 6% – 8% for three years.  The Award team raised almost $4 million to support the national award through the Charter for Business, including the recruitment of a national benefactor who committed $2.5 million over a 10-year period.  He also successfully recruited their first National Ambassador, CTV’s Bev Thompson.

Beginning in 2007, he served three 3-year terms as a Director of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Council, primarily responsible for the day to day operation of the global youth award program in 140 countries with approximately one million participants.

From 2012-2015 he served as the International Deputy Chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.

He service culminated with his Chairmanship of the Host Committee for the International Forum 2015 hosted by Canada for the global award family.  During his international service he chaired an international sub-committee to award financial grants to countries for innovative programming to reach youth at risk, particularly in the third world.  He participated as a member of a small team to initiate and plan a global re-branding of the award and he worked with a professional team to provide advice on a strategy for a global digital presence for the award.

For his service to the award he has received the 25-year Volunteer Service Award presented by His Royal Highness, The Earl of Wessex; the National Volunteer of the Year Award in 2011 and the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in 2018.

Volunteer Service – Other

He has also found time to chair, the Royal Visit to St. John’s of Their Royal Highnesses The Earl and Countess of Wessex; serve as an Executive Member, Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra (2009-2013), and Chairman, of their Education and Outreach Committee; serve as a member, St. Pius X Parish Council, (1998-2001); and serve as a member of the quasi-judicial Roman Catholic Board of Examiners, Catholic Education Council (1996-1998).

He was the founding President (1988) of the sport of biathlon in Newfoundland and became the Chairman of the Board, Biathlon Canada (1993-1994), the national sport governing body for the Olympic sport of biathlon, including representing them on the Canadian Olympic Association as a “B” Director.


In 2013 he was named the 29th President of St. Bonaventure’s College a job which is by far the most rewarding of his career.