Father, grandfather, tool and die maker, traveller, all-round great guy. Born March 10, 1925, in Hamilton, died April 14, 2013, in Chatham, Ont., of cancer, aged 88.
We all had our different names for him: Maurice, or Maurice in French, Herr Père, Mr. Isherwood, Grandpa, Dad or just plain Mo.
As a child during the Depression in Hamilton, Maurice used to walk down the railway tracks, picking up clinkers of coal that had fallen from the trains. His dad worked in the cotton mills and money was tight, so the found coal helped heat the family home. Maurice was always a responsible guy.
At 16, he was hired by Westinghouse, where he went on to a career as a skilled tool and die maker. But since he was too young to go on the factory floor, he spent the first little while working in the office, where he met an attractive young woman named Doreen Hill. She later became his wife and the Do-Mo marriage lasted until Do passed away of cancer in 2003.
The war interrupted both Maurice’s apprenticeship and his blossoming romance with Doreen. He joined the navy at 18 as a stoker on a frigate, where he once apparently pointed the cannon at the captain – and there was hell to pay. Another story was about Do and Mo’s wedding in October, 1944. Returning from his leave, Mo missed the boat, literally – more hell to pay.
With the war over, Do and Mo started their family. Frank came along in 1948, Steve in 1952, and Mark at the end of 1958. Once the kids were grown up, Maurice and Doreen started to travel. They had an unforgettable trip to Hawaii; many cruises to the Caribbean and Alaska; and they particularly liked Las Vegas.
Last summer, at 87, Mo took a European river cruise with Mark and his wife Julie. He took some persuading to go: There would be too much walking, he didn’t like wine, he didn’t like to eat unfamiliar food. So Julie persuaded the ship’s cook to make Maurice a grilled cheese sandwich every night. When they came back, guess who was showing off the photos? It was Mo.
The numbers tell the story of a steady life. Mo worked at Westinghouse for 47 years; he was married to Do for 59 years; and in 70 years of driving, he never had a parking ticket.
But he knew how to enjoy not just the exotic travel, but simple moments in life as well. Some of our best memories are of sitting with Mo on the bench by Collingwood’s Blue Mountain in the fall, watching extreme bikers ride down the hill. Or on our back deck in Toronto, watching the planes from Pearson Airport.
Maurice moved from Hamilton to Mark and Julie’s place in Chatham a year and a half ago when his house in Hamilton became too much to handle. He enjoyed his new berth as part of a busy household. And it was thanks to Mark and Julie’s efforts that Mo was able to die at home, peacefully, surrounded by family.
Maurice had a favourite word to describe things he didn’t like. That word was “lousy.” No one else could say “lousy” with quite as much feeling as he did. So how do we feel about Mo being gone? We feel lousy. We loved him, and we’re going to miss him because he was one wonderful guy.
Colleen Isherwood is married to Maurice’s son Steve.