In memoriam: Tom Gibson-Brydon and Laura Michelle Nagy

In memoriam: Tom Gibson-Brydon and Laura Michelle Nagy


Laura Michelle Nagy (1982-2009)

Laura loved learning. Her academic success started in elementary school where she was identified as “Gifted”, got involved in school activities, and was named Valedictorian of her Grade 8 class. Her Secondary school International Baccalaureate program brought her many new opportunities, notably the chance to study abroad and immerse herself in the lifestyle of the French. Laura’s love of France led her to pursue her academic studies at McGill, where she graduated in 2007 with a B.A. in Canadian History and International Development and a Political Science minor. Laura had a desire for social change through community involvement. From helping McGill students get home safely at night in the WalkSafe program to working with the Sexual Assault Centre of McGill’s Student Society, Laura was a devoted volunteer. The list of organizations Laura helped locally, provincially and internationally is inspiring. Terry Fox Run, Covenant House, the Farha Foundation for AIDS Research, the Federation des Femmes du Quebec, Waves of Resistance, La Main pour Femmes/The Main for Women, and the Head and Hands organization all benefitted from her dedication and strong work ethic. Laura demonstrated her leadership qualities as she took on various positions from journalist/editor of her high-school Student Action Magazine, to field assistant in Zomba, Malawi, to project coordinator for the Eclosion Cooperative, Canada-Cameroon. While managing all of the above, she was holding jobs in the service industry, including Thomson House, where she met her beloved Tom. “If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand, extraordinary things begin to happen.” Laura often used this quote from Loretta Girzortis. Thanks, Laura, for all you have done.

Tom Gibson-Brydon (1976-2009)

Tom was an extraordinary human being. In his lifetime of 33 years he was an inspiration: as a brother who protected his own, as a son who was kind and generous and as a friend who became an integral part of his friends' lives. Whether as the Dungeon Master leading an adventure of "Dungeons and Dragons", a saxophone player in the band "The World Famous Riflemen" making music in the style of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, or as an academic scholar with McGill University he strived for excellence. Tom entered his Master’s Program at McGill in 1999. In 2001, he began his doctoral studies under the direction of Brian Lewis, and defended his dissertation, “Christ’s Last Ante: Charles Booth, Church Charity and the Poor-but-Respectable”, in December 2007. Tom taught and co-taught a number of courses for the History Department over the last few years, including Topics in British Cultural History (“Poverty and the Welfare State in Britain”), Twentieth-Century Britain, US since 1865, and US Presidential Campaigning. He was also a faithful, appreciative and very much respected member of the Montreal British History Seminar, and, according to Bob Tittler, all who were regular seminar members admired both him and his work. Tom’s door was always open. Those who glanced sideways walking past his office would always see Tom’s smiling face as he engaged enthusiastically with students and colleagues. Tom believed in the underdog and he fought through his teaching to make this world a better place. His family remember him with the utmost love and respect. He was the best example of a caring and loving human being. What Tom achieved by the age of 33, few achieve over the course of a lifetime. We are so proud to have known you, Tom. You will stay in our hearts and minds forever.

History professor Gil Troy, with whom Tom worked closely last year, captures the feeling of all of Tom's colleagues: “Tom was an amazing teacher who absolutely captivated students.” We will all miss his good cheer and wonderful sense of humor. He was a warm, passionate scholar and teacher whose loss is a great shock.

An Invitation to Make a Difference

Tom and Laura’s families and the Department of History and Classical Studies wished to honor Tom and Laura’s memory in a special way by creating the Tom Gibson-Brydon and Laura Nagy Travel Fund in History. Tom and Laura had a tremendous impact on their colleagues, fellow students and professors in the History Department. We would like their memory to help future generations of history students at McGill fulfill their potential and improve their student experience.