Pilot, photographer, husband, lover of British drama. Born May 6, 1943, in Toronto, died April 11, 2013, in Toronto of heart failure, aged 69.
Gord once said his best memory of growing up was lying in the sunshine reading his classic comic books and drinking his bottle of Orange Crush. He loved being an East-End kid, living in the small house his Scottish parents, William and Margaret, owned near Toronto’s Taylor Creek Park ravine.
Photos show the happy boy with his local Little Rascals gang and a cheeky Gord with his older sisters, June and Doris, in their lush little backyard.
When he was 9, his parents took him on a wonderful trip overseas: visits to the stone cottages of his charming aunts, shows in London, but probably best of all for Gord were his first airplane flights.
Back at home, a big change followed with the arrival of a baby brother. One of the little brother’s first memories is of riding fast in Gord’s bicycle carrier – the same one he used for his job delivering fish and chips.
As a teenager in love with flying, Gord joined the Air Cadets and earned his pilot’s licence. The cadets awarded him a trip to Sweden. Gord had to abandon his dream of a career in the air when he discovered he was colour-blind – he couldn’t distinguish landing lights in the dark.
More bad things soon followed with his mother’s sudden death of a heart attack when he was 19.
Gord completed his bachelor of arts at the University of Western Ontario, then worked in insurance in Calgary, St. Catharines, Ont., and Toronto.
He usually lived in furnished basement suites, which he filled with his hobby equipment – books, tropical fish, stamps, electronics, but above all photographs. There are thousands of his photos jammed into boxes – he was more pack rat than curator. He would develop his own photos, and among his experiments is a print that could be titled Cigarette in Ashtray.
At 37, Gord had been smoking for more than 20 years, which had everything to do with his heart attack. Bypass surgery followed. Gord learned whatever he could, stopped smoking and carefully monitored the salt in his diet. Over the years he had an angioplasty, ablations and countless medications. There were many close calls, but he never complained.
Gord married Doreen, a widow with her own family. For 20 years they travelled, dined out and learned ballroom dancing. They were fixtures at the Scarborough Town Centre, Doreen often a standout in her bright red coat, until she began to lose track of where she was.
Supporting Doreen through Alzheimer’s disease took its toll on Gord’s health, but he never complained. Five more years passed and Doreen had a room at the Wexford Residence, Gord his own apartment down the hall.
Gord was housebound this last winter, but he had his laptop and cable TV. On Friday nights, he and his brother shared Swiss Chalet takeout and a love of British TV dramas: Gord taped Coronation Street, Heartbeat and, of course Downton Abbey. He liked American shows too: Mad Men and the resurrected Dallas. Gord made it just past J.R. Ewing’s demise; his brother has yet to see how Season 2 ended.
Craig Barron is Gord’s brother.