Kerry Bolam was a much loved and respected member of the Shalom community.
Kerry Bolam was a much loved and respected member of the Shalom community.

Tributes flow as school loses pillar of community

BUNDABERG'S Shalom College community received a blow this week with the death of a pillar of its community, Kerry Bolam.

Referred to by students as Mr Kerry, he announced his retirement last month in a letter to the Shalom community.

The respected teacher lost his battle with cancer on Sunday.

Shalom principal Dan McMahon described Kerry as "a wonderful beacon of help to a lot of kids".

In a newsletter to the Shalom school community this week Mr McMahon paid his respect to a man who made the difference in so many lives.

"It will remain one of the really privileged moments in my life when, last Thursday, I was able to spend a little bit of time with Kerry beside his hospital bed," Mr McMahon said.

"He knew he was dying and that he didn't have a lot of time to go.

"But he told me, that he had no regrets.

"Undoubtedly, there had been missteps along the way but he knew in his heart that his life had been good.

"As he approached his end it seemed that all that was important was those who he loved and those who loved him.

"There is a bit of wisdom in that."

Mr Bolam joined the Shalom community in 2014 and quickly found a niche working in a study line with students who needed that extra bit of support.

"He attended to how they were," Mr McMahon said.

"Kerry was our R U OK man."

Mr McMahon wrote that Mr Kerry was interested deeply in a person's character above external factors, passionate about social justice and scathing of those who hoarded the world's resources at the expense of those who have little.

"Kerry, as much as I loved him, could be a hard marker at times and there were times he was scathing of those in my profession who cared more about what they teach than who they teach," Mr McMahon wrote.

"Kerry loved the battlers.

"He always had time for the broken and those who needed someone to have a chat."

Despite not having talked about religion, Mr McMahon said Mr Kerry lived out the values of Jesus.

"Kerry might not have been a 'card carrying Catholic' but far more importantly, he lived out those values that Jesus spoke so consistently about and for which he was eventually crucified," he said.

"I am not surprised then that Jesus easily recognised him as one of his mob Sunday morning."

"Family was everything to Kerry.

"He spoke to me on Thursday about the wonderful relationship he had with his siblings.

"His wonderful wife Debbie and his beautiful daughters, Ruth and Kate and their partners meant the world to him.

"And those grandkids - Mathilda, Max and Quinn they were just the greatest.

"To all of Kerry's family, our hearts go out to you and you have our enormous appreciation for sharing him with us and the hundreds and hundreds of young people who were blessed by him in their lives."

Mr Kerry wrote to the community after his resignation in September.

His final words in the letter were "be kind".