He went about his many tasks and duties with two guiding principles: hard work and discipline. While he may not have had a 100 per cent success rate, he was never discouraged.
The man of diverse talents had a mind of his own, always applying a strong will and heart to his tasks.
And when Arumugam Pancharatnam died in his sleep at his Chestnut Crescent home last Sunday morning at the age of 90, he completed a great innings as a much-admired education and sports icon.
At his funeral last Tuesday evening at Mandai, a packed hall - including leading sportsmen, teachers, civil servants, friends and colleagues, including Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan who had just flown in from Myanmar, paid tribute to a loyal Singaporean.
Popularly known as "Punch", he was born in Sri Lanka, moved to Kuala Lumpur as a student and joined the Teachers' Training College in Singapore in the mid-50s to begin his education service.
With a Colombo Plan scholarship in 1963, he specialised in sports education at New Zealand's Palmerston North University and contributed to the Singapore education and sports scene in many capacities.
As a physical education specialist at the Extra-Curricular Activities Centre, the always-smiling "Punch" went about his job with distinction.
Beneath the calm exterior was a tough character who had a steadfast belief in upholding virtues and did not tolerate indiscipline.
When he was manager of the national football team in the late 60s, he showed his no-nonsense attitude when he reportedly sent home star goalkeeper Wilfred Skinner for breaking team rules.
In 1974, when he managed a schoolboy hockey team to New Delhi, he ordered two players who returned to the hotel past the 10pm curfew to pack their bags for a return flight home the next morning. Although he relented that morning, he punished the boys by keeping them on the sidelines for a week.
As a rookie reporter in the early 70s, I had some memorable interactions with "Punch". He would always teach me patience and courage. I have always treasured his sound advice and good counsel.
Former national sprint champion C. Kunalan, then a teacher at Dunearn Technical School, recalls: "He came to observe me teaching when I was due to cross my final bar.
"I took it seriously as he was a strict master and coach".
His eldest son Jeyaratnam, 62, a venture capitalist, said: "Papa lived strictly by his principles. He was never swayed into being politically correct or bound by convention or traditional belief, if there was a more innovative or new way of doing something better."