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The world lost 100 AIDS researchers and activists in the ill-fated MH17 but it also lost Michael Clancy, an extraordinary educator who was an inspiration to his students, often changing their lives for the better.
Like the AIDS experts, Mr Clancy, a retired deputy principal at Albion Park Primary School, had a burning desire to make a real difference in the world.
His lifetime achievements may not have been on the international stage but his contribution to the Illawarra community was significant in that he helped shape the lives of hundreds of students.
In an outpouring of grief and disbelief at his death, former students, parents and friends have paid tribute online to Mr Clancy and his wife, Carol, who was also a teacher.
The pair were on their way home after a three-week trip to Europe to celebrate Mr Clancy’s retirement.
They recalled a kind and humble man who always greeted parents and students with a smile and by name as he hurried through the school grounds.
Each morning he would play Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody or the theme song to the Indiana Jones movie, to his year 5 and 6 charges as they settled into his classroom for the day.
Many remembered Mr Clancy as the one teacher who made an impact on their life and ensured no child ever felt invisible. By all accounts, he was a caring, dedicated teacher who made learning fun and who, at lunchtime, was hard to beat at handball.
‘‘He was the kind of teacher that made you feel important and not just another snot-nosed brat running around his school,’’ wrote Beth Manley, of Victoria.
‘‘Mr Clancy you deserved the trip of a lifetime that you had worked and saved so hard for, not this. May you and your beautiful wife rest in peace.’’
Ian, a cleaner at the school, believed Mr Clancy went beyond the call of duty as a teacher and deputy.
‘‘He had an unequal dedication to the school and the children there,’’ Ian said.
‘‘He was the man to go to if there was a problem, and he always put others before himself – standing up for the staff and giving his support.
‘‘He was never afraid to get his hands dirty helping out around the school, being the first to arrive and the last to leave.’’
Kristie Manning, from Albion Park, said Mr Clancy had an influential role in her life.
‘‘Mr Clancy, you did a lot in my life to make me who I am, you made primary school for me better than anyone could ask for.”
Tributes also came from outside the Illawarra, including Perth, Canberra, Newcastle and Bermagui where he had taught.
Lisa, from Mudgee, wrote: ‘‘A great boss, mentor and friend. Always going into bat for his casuals.”