TRIBUTE: CQ principal remembered as ‘pioneer’
Lescha Joseph Coory has been remembered by his children as a trailblazer with a genuine love for people.
The former special school principal, inspector of special schools, served three terms as Queensland Special School Principal's Association president died peacefully of natural causes in Kangaroo Point on March 26.
He was 90 years old.
His son Damian Coory, 54, described him as a "pioneer, singularly focused on the kids and the outcomes of the children."
"That was his driving force," Damian said.
Lescha was known by those in the special education sector for reducing inefficiency, cutting through bureaucracy and his genuine passion for the kids.
Damian said the most influential figure in Lescha's life was his mother Agnes, who was a Lebanese immigrant born in the United States.
She later moved to Australia and ran a store in West End.
He was inspired by how she would let the less fortunate into her shop and feed them, and that the family were immigrants of humble needs.
"I think his upbringing gives him humility, like genuine humility," Damian said.
"He had this deep concern for people.
"Even in the nursing home he passed away in… he was a person people always came to get advice."
Although Lescha wasn't the biggest fan of multiculturalism, he was very much supportive of a multiethnic society.
"He's broken down some barriers in the department of education by being… one of the first people from a non-Anglo-Celtic background to rise to that level," Damian said.
His leadership style revolved around the purpose of the job, and was able to motivate teams to get things done by putting everyone's ego aside.
And he always did it as a kind and caring man, with the main focus on the special needs kids.
"One thing I heard him say a lot of times - he'd always say we have professionals, we all have our own area of expertise, we need to respect everyone's area of expertise," Damian said.
When Lescha retired, he wanted to spend some time to himself and didn't involve himself in much work; he had already done what he needed to do.
Damian was impressed with his handyman skills and said his father did up some houses and sold them.
"Incredible. don't know where he learnt all this stuff," he said.
"He'd love the races. He had a very good mathematical mind and kind of come up with a good system for the races."
But he only gambled small amounts because he was only there for the fun of the game.
He battled many health problems in his last years but always pushed through life.
"God, he was a trooper!"
"I was hanging out with him a lot this year, but he, now I look back, I'd take him out and he couldn't walk, so he sits on his walker and walks with his legs.
"Most people would have given up.
"Funny guy, great guy, amazing."
Damian said the fondest memory he had of his Dad was his character as a father.
"If I can live up to his standard of character, I'd be pretty proud of myself," he said.
"He just gave so much to his grandchildren," Damian said.
"He spent a lot of time focused on the family."
Lescha's daughter Patricia Hawkins, 67, said he always worked beyond the textbook and was a trailblazer in his field.
"He was just amazing and really ahead of his time," Mrs Hawkins said.
"He worked hard, he worked long hours, and he was always available for the parents and the children."
She said he wasn't a "disciplinarian", but always kind-voiced and kind-worded.
Mrs Hawkins said he had a huge impact on the Rockhampton community while he was the special school principal there, and she remembers being there between the ages of nine and 12.
"In those days, it wasn't a huge town or anything, but everyone knew who Dad was," she said.
"I think he was unlike any other person they'd seen there at the special school or otherwise.
"I was only a kid but I can remember that and compare it to what's available today. I think it would have been extremely difficult."
Mrs Hawkins' fondest memories of Lescha was his sense of fun, and how he'd always have something special like a chocolate for the children when he came home from work.
Lescha had five children (one deceased) and seven grandchildren between the ages of 14 to 35.
His funeral will be held at St Francis Catholic Church in West End at 11am on April 7.
EARLIER STORY: Former CQ special school principal dies aged 90