Born in 1933, Gordon lived a rich and full life. He attended North Toronto in the glory days of Jack Dow and played violin in the school’s fledgling music program, although science ultimately proved to be his passion. After completing his PhD in marine biology at the University of California, he returned to Canada and accepted a position at the University of Waterloo in Canada’s first Environmental Faculty. He played a significant role in preparing Canada’s first Environmental Assessment Process, worked with Thomas Berger on the McKenzie Valley Pipeline inquiry and headed up Kenya’s Wildlife Planning Unit, which was responsible for establishing new national parks in that county.
Gordon had two sons – Erik (born in Nigeria) and Ben (born in Vancouver) – with his first wife, Anita D’Aoust. In 1989, Gordon suffered a life-altering stroke but, although partially paralyzed, continued to teach, work and travel. In 1996, he attended the Maytime Melodies 50th anniversary concert at Roy Thompson Hall and reconnected with Kay Smythe (née Charles, also ’53) – his first girlfriend at NT! – whom he had not seen since graduating. Kay and Gordon were married in Muskoka at a ceremony enhanced by a stirring rendition of John Rutter’s “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” which had been performed at the 50th Maytime Melodies concert.
In living with a stroke-related disability, Gordon realized that there were no books written from the perspective of survivors. He took on the challenge of filling this void by interviewing other stoke survivors. Using a single finger to type, he documented their stories and his in What’s Your Handicap? A Guide to Stroke Recovery, published in 2014.
Known for his gentle humour and quiet wisdom, Gordon passed away peacefully on June 9, 2017, with his wife, sons and stepson at his side.