Mourners gather to remember Ottawa bus crash victim Michael Bleakney

Everyone looked up to Michael Bleakney and it wasn’t just because he was a “tall, strapping, Scottish fellow.”

He was the kind of guy who’d dance with his wife, Kathy, in the kitchen for no reason.

“He loved her so much,” said friend and colleague of 14 years, Ravi Sundararaj.

The type of dad who chauffeured Aaron, Murray, Amanda and Caitlin to Scouts, cadets, baseball, and speed-skating, to name a few of their activities.

That was in addition to working, being active at church, singing in a choir, and sitting on a national health and safety committee.

“He never complained that it was too much for him,” said Amanda Bleakney.

A man who insisted the last passenger to board the double-decker bus switch spots with him and head upstairs the morning of Sept. 18.

Less than three minutes later Romi Gupta tumbled down, surviving the devastating ordeal — a full OC Transpo bus slamming into a Via train at Fallowfield station — which killed Bleakney, Connor Boyd, Karen Krzyzewski, Rob More, Kyle Nash, and David Woodard.

“He was my angel,” said Gupta, tears streaming down her cheeks.

To others, he was a genius.

Bleakney’s children called him a renaissance man, “much to his chagrin,” said Amanda Bleakney.

“He was my hero, my mentor.”

Among his achievements, Bleakney showed his kids a healthy marriage.

Always hugging and kissing Kathy, “get a room,” the kids would tell them, even as adults.

Bleakney took over domestic duties when Kathy went to nursing school, becoming the “master of the casserole,” said Amanda Bleakney, noting the kids were “amazed yet disturbed” by his talent of whipping together a meal using leftovers.

She believes he’s in heaven playing the guitar, reading the encyclopedia, and drinking fine scotch.

“It brings me peace that he was perhaps too good for this world,” Amanda Bleakney told 300 people who filled Barrhaven United Church to pay homage to the 57-year-old senior geotechnical engineer with the federal government.

Sundararaj shared a tale of how they were learning to ballroom dance with their wives, and Bleakney suggested discreetly practicing at work.

“He’s the one guy I probably would’ve done it with,” said Sundararaj.

“We miss him terribly. He’s a man I’m proud to say I love and will always cherish.”

An empty spot in the choir’s back row marked Bleakney’s absence.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca
Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/09/25/mourners-gather-to-remember-ottawa-bus-crash-victim-michael-bleakney

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