WHILE the tragedy of MH17 continues to resonate around the world, it has also struck closer to home with news a former teacher at Bermagui Primary School is among the dead.
Michael Clancy taught at Bermagui in the early 1980s and former students and colleagues remember him fondly as a dedicated teacher and community member.
Mr Clancy and his wife Carol, also a former teacher, were returning from a dream European holiday to celebrate the Albion Park deputy principal’s retirement, when MH17 was shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine.
The news has been met with outpourings of grief and disbelief right along the South Coast and much further afield as former students paid tribute to an “extraordinary educator”.
Former students, parents and friends have paid tribute online to Mr Clancy and his wife, Carol, who was also a teacher.
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.
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.
Edith Blacka lived in Bermagui all her married life, around 50 years, and taught at the school “almost forever”.
“He was one of the best teachers you could get at a school,” Ms Blacka said.
“He was a very dedicated person, a dedicated teacher and a dedicated community member.
“It is such tragic news.
“Anyone in Bermagui who knew him would remember him fondly.
“I guess every part of Australia is feeling like us now - I can’t imagine what the families are going through.
“It really brings it close to home that it doesn’t matter where we live.”
Bermagui’s Errol Masterson also remembers Mr Clancy fondly, particularly for his dedication to the community through groups such as Apex, as well as a former teacher of his son.
“He was involved in everything and a ball of fun,” Mr Masterson said.
“He was a real live wire and enjoyed a joke with everyone.
“We just can’t believe it.
“It hits you and you don’t realise living in a small country town – when you hear about tragedies like this, you think it doesn’t happen here.
“He was such a great bloke.”