Hundreds of Santaclausians (as past students of Adisadel College in Cape Coast are referred to) and other mourners, converged on the forecourt of the State House in Accra last weekend to bid farewell to the late Mr Robert Thompson Orleans-Pobee, a former headmaster of Adisadel College.
Mr Orleans-Pobee died in Accra on March 6, this year at the age of 89. A Santaclausian himself, he joined the staff of the school in 1950 and served in a variety of roles. His tenure as headmaster was from 1963 to 1974.
Among the old students at the funeral were Mr Ebenezer B. Sekyi-Hughes, former Speaker of Parliament; Sir Sam Jonah, businessman and Executive Chairman of Jonah Capital and Mr Kojo Yankah, founder of the African University College of Communications (AUCC).
Others were Mr Alan Kyerematen, Minister for Trade and Industry and Mr Freddie Blay, acting National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Mr Kojo Yankah read a tribute on behalf of the Santaclausians, which eulogised the hard-driving and dynamic leadership of Orleans-Pobee which created an atmosphere that emphasised well-rounded studentship and self-development.
“He was a big-hearted, humorous kind man who helped many students without any fanfare. He visited students’ homes during vacations and when the physical conditions informed him of the difficult financial circumstances of a family, he quietly sought scholarships for the students from those homes,” the tribute said.
Rt Rev. Col. John Kwamina Otoo (retd), a Santaclausian and former Chaplain-General of the Ghana Armed Forces, preached the sermon at the funeral. He said Orleans-Pobee emboldened his students and made them feel that once they were in Adisadel, they could stand the test of life and overcome it.
After leaving Adisadel, Orleans-Pobee became the Principal of the Specialist Training College at Winneba and also worked as head of the National Sports Council.
He retired from public service as a Senior Assistant Registrar at the then Counselling and Placements Centre of the University of Ghana, Legon.
Santaclausian of the Century
In 2010 during the centenary celebrations of Adisadel College, Orleans-Pobee was unanimously acclaimed and decorated the Santaclausian of the Century. In that same year, he was recognised for his outstanding contribution to sports development in Ghana by the Ghana Association of Sports Writers.
In 2011, the Adisadel Old Boys Association instituted the Annual R.T. Orleans-Pobee Lecture in his honour.
After vigorous renditions of the Adisadel anthem and ode by the old students around the coffin, the remains of the former headmaster was buried at the Osu Cemetery beside his wife, Comfort, who died in March 2015.