Saturday, October 5, 2013

Remembering Gord May -The Smile and Sense of Humour....

The memory of Gord May's smile and sense of humour will stick in our minds forever!

A huge group of people will be in Victoria October 7, 2013 to pay tribute to Gord and share their thoughts with Gord's family.

Gord dealt with his cancer like anything else in his life; privately he struggled but publicly he was positive, upbeat and managed to get a laugh out of it somehow.

Gord had friends that he cherished from his days at the Winnipeg Y, Camp Stephens, Alberta Recreation & Parks and the BC Coaches Association.

He loved his family and talked often about his Mom who had been such a rock in his life.


Camp Stephens August 31, 2013

Gord made it to the 50th Anniversary of the Camp Stephens Wilderness Program on the long weekend in September. It was a high point for him and all his friends from back in the day.

The Gord of old fumbling with the life jacket just to get a few laughs.










Punch Jackson 

At times like this we come to realize how little we really knew about a person. All of us were part of his life but all in different aspects or time frames. For instance did you know that Gord worked with Al & Jane Burpee taking mentally & physically disabled (old terminology) young adults on holidays in Western Canada in the early 1970's or that he did TV Commercials and was in a movie made in Ft. Edmonton.....Gord said it was a don't blink part. Did you know that Gord was an ONKYO electronics salesman in Western Canada (can you picture him giving the sales pitch) Or who knew of his work with Special Olympics? The Camp family didn't know about the fabulous work Gord did with the BC Coaches Association. Did you know Gord was part of a leadership exchange program with the Jamaican YMCA in 1970.

I'm laughing to myself...back in the early days on the trail Gord figured out pretty quickly that I always had treats in my pack so it only took one trip for him to figure out that he would volunteer to be in the tent with the trippers.

Over the years we checked in regularly, usually by phone. It was always the same, just like we had talked yesterday. A quick update on people and me digging to find out if he was ok. For some reason Gord never felt he was a success. He couldn't see the guy we all saw. He couldn't see the joy he brought to people's lives. He couldn't see what a success he was......Gord was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

The BC Coaches Association honoured Gord when he retired last Spring. Their comments and videos are something to behold and should have blown away any doubt that Gord might have had about being a success. He had become a legend in BC Coaching education.

I am very proud of Gord and the legacy that he created. I'm very proud to have had him as a friend and to say he was "one of my guys".

Sara Jane Gruetzner

I have obviously thought about Gord a lot over the last few months. He did have a wonderful sense of humour – but I always saw it as a mask for someone who was a lot deeper and more complex than I think people understood.

Yes, - Gord had a wonderful sense of humour – Mike Ross and I have a few memories that would be impossible to tell or share – but the sight of those horrible pink, green and white mints invokes hysterical laughter – by all of us. Over the years – there have been many gifts of mints passed between us. 

I never understood why Gord was not happy with who he was – he was athletic, had lots of friends, lots of interests and loved to travel. I think his recent painting trip to Italy was perfect! Always interested in learning new skills and loved to travel. And as my niece said once about my Mom – “Let’s face it – he was good looking!”

Most of all Gord was a good friend. He loved his nieces and nephews a lot - He cared about people when it mattered the most.

I don’t have any pictures – I guess I didn’t need them.
I will miss him...

Hugh McGeary
I first met Gord when we were bottle boys at Falcon Lake Drugstore in 1966.
My memories of him include our sailing in a wind so strong we couldn't come about, racing our motorboats, denting his in gigantic waves, double dating , playing on the University of Winnipeg Collegiate volleyball team in grade 12, living in Edmonton and being part of a weekly get together group he called the "scarred aortas " meaning the broken hearts club.


Gord was always interested in me, my spouse and kids, my siblings and parents. Not many people have his generosity of spirit, humour, compassion and friendship. It's been said we remember people not for what they did, but for how they made us feel. I will forever remember Gord for how good it felt to be his friend. 

Chantelle Reinkins

Reading to Chantelle's son
It is a very sad time and I will miss him greatly!!! I worked with Gord for 6 years and in that time he became a very close friend/mentor to me. He was my rock here in BC and feels like more a family member than someone I worked with. All of my family are back in SK and him and I just seemed to 'get' each other. We liked to poke fun at each other and with his sense of humour and with me being so gullible, I had to make sure that I 'got' his joke.  He was a great man and he always made me feel like someone special and he was one of the greatest listeners I've ever met.

Over the last few days there have been sooo many people talking about Gord and reminiscing about the moments people had with him.  I'm having some trouble formulating all the stories about Gord as everytime I think about something, I can't help but cry. It's hard to believe he's gone...

Norm Olenick
...too many memories to focus on one.  While trying to recall a few, the following thought formed itself - It's the best I can do in the present sense of loss.

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  To me some words are worth a thousand pictures.  In our individual memories, and in our collective reflections, 
I believe those words are ..... Gord May!

Doreen Ryan (82 years young)
I worked with Gord at Alberta Recreation & Parks Dept. and when he moved to the West Coast we kept in contact by phone and email then visited when Gord was in Edmonton and I travelled to Vancouver and Victoria. We just had a wonderful visit in June of this year and he seemed so healthy and spirited.  I will remember that visit fondly. We were able to discuss almost anything.  He often referred to me his 2nd Mom.  Just a wonderful relationship and one which I will always treasure.  I will definitely miss him, his phone calls and our visits.  I loved him dearly.    

Joanne and John Macbeth

Time with Gord was always easy because he had this amazing ability to just become part of whatever was happening. He was always up for the adventure of the day or just hanging out. Whatever was happening, Gord’s presence always made it better. You always noticed and he seemed to enjoy bringing a sense of humour and wit into any situation and that made the good times and the harder times better.
But there was also the undeniable fact that there was much more to Gord, whatever needed to be done he had the ability to move things forward and make things work out. Whether it was driving and fixing shuttles for trips or driving a boat for a midnight rescue in the middle of a storm, Gord was there and able to do whatever was required. Time with Gord was never about Gord it was about friendship, catching up, reminiscing and sharing memories. It was never difficult to just pick up from where you’d left off the last time no matter how long it might have been. The waves of laughter he added to a conversation always pulled everyone together. Gord was a great friend and great to be with. We’ll really miss him. 

The pictures are of Gord in the seventies. A group of us were fortunate to spend a summer in Jamaica with Gord as part of a Y international exchange program. We ran day camps at local schools as part of a summer program. Gord, was a natural leader and could really build friendship and confidence in any group. Gord was always high energy and game to try anything. He was the only one with a valid driver’s license and a host family willing to give him a car on the weekends. My memory is what a great driver he was manoeuvering those narrow windy roads. When Gord was involved there were always adventures to be had. We bartered in markets, visited local caves, scrambled under fences for watermelon, explored the coastline and visited the Playboy club. It was an amazing summer for all of us.

Patti Pidlaski
I am so grateful to have had some time with him at the reunion. He was the same fantastic, funny, thoughtful, and kind guy, I first met on the YMCA Jamaica exchange more than 40 years ago. He will be so missed.

Brent Thomas
I am so sorry to hear of Gord's passing, and glad that we were able to touch base at the Trail reunion this summer. He was so upbeat that I was convinced he would be around for a while. Like Patti Pidlaski, I met Gord when he came to Jamaica as a leader when I was the ED of the Vere YMCA.

Kelly Picken
I feel lucky to have seen him again and to have spent a bit more time together at camp!

" No it couldn't have been me..." the prankster
Don Cochrane
I remember him very fondly as the one who introduced me to the magic of sailing.

Mary Macdonald
How wonderful that Gord made it back to the island and the magic of that weekend to grace us with his presence. A gentle kind man. Blessings.

Frithor Frithor
I hope Gordy had as much fun and enjoyment seeing all of us, as we did seeing him, it was a treat.


Ayat Patel 
I am writing this piece with very mixed emotions and writing this is difficult, and no matter how hard I try, what I write will never do justice to Gord.  I had the privilege of having Gord as part of my life for over 15 years.  We worked together in the same office for a better part of 10 years, between SportMedBC and Badminton BC.  Little did I know, when we first met, that he would turn into my “coffee” buddy and we shared many wonderful moments together, either walking to Starbucks or Timmy’s.  Through Gord, Iearned the value of friendship and life.  He was one of the very few people who wanted all those he cared about, to succeed, in all aspects of life.  Over the years of working with him, I had never heard him speak ill of anyone, no matter how challenging things had become.  In his own quiet way he mentored those around him, leading by example, supporting from behind and always smiling.  He reminded me about the things that mattered in life…family and friends.  He was like a big brother.

The last time I saw Gord, was before he left for Europe.  We had lunch at Joey’s.  Regardless of health challenges he was facing, he still had his sense of humour and supportive voice.  He was still really interested in what I was doing along with knowing about those that he and I knew.  He was so genuine.  Like many of you, I am very thankful to have had Gord in my life.  On October 7, we will get to celebrate, together, Gordon, the leader, the son, the brother, the friend.
The Coaches Association of British Columbia Remembers Gord
http://www.coachesbc.ca/news/headlines?articleid=214  



“…having a boss who allowed me the freedom to work
through my projects in the way I saw fit
and gave me the confidence to be able to do this”.
– Chantelle Reinkens, Nov. 16 2012
















 

 
Grant Platts 
I had known Gord for close to 45 years, starting at Stephens in the late 1960's when he was my counsellor.  Gord and I had the chance at the 50th reunion to recollect an epic adventure that we experienced that first summer.  We were on a canoe trip on Sand Lake north of Minaki that also included a couple of guys from Jamaica.  We were half way across the lake when the wind came up and two boats (that also included some very "excited" Jamaicans) went over.  I was paddling in Gord's canoe and we had to head to shore, dump packs and head back out to rescue those that were in the lake.  We managed to get boats, equipment and the guys in the lake back to shore.  I've never forgotten the challenge of that afternoon and Gord's expert handling of the situation under very challenging conditions.  

We spent many good times together in subsequent years - at Stephens as fellow staff members and roommates when I lived in Edmonton in 1979.  Gord always made a point of coming back to camp to celebrate anniversaries.  I recall him being at the 90th when I was the Director and he also joined us all at the 100th.  He was a thoughtful, witty, and engaging friend.

I was so privileged to see him again a few short weeks ago.  His passing has left a wee hole in my heart.  

Brian "Stubby" Law
Gord made our lives better for knowing him.

Ralph Bellstedt
Sends a photo of Gord on his 40th birthday.


 















Karen Exchange
While at the Camp Stephens reunion Gord reminded us "to enjoy every day we are given" 
Mitch Halpin and I used to sing together - "a million tomorrows shall pass away, ere I forget all the joy that is mine, today". All those "todays" still linger.
I will hold his memory close.

Lynda "Tuck" MacIntosh & Laurie "Mac" MacIntosh
Someone once said .."it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, and a day to love them, but it takes an entire lifetime to forget them."
 
Gord was a special person in our life who we will never forget. The only side we ever saw of Gord was the smile, the laughter, the up-beat, kind and caring Gord.
 
We're sure he had his "down days", but it's his laughter and his smile we will remember. When Gord was around you were sure to be laughing...what greater legacy can there be? We will miss his laughter, his silly jokes, his kindness and his magnificent smile...
God speed Gord! Goodbye my friend, you were loved and you will be missed.

 
 
Copeland Island - YM/YWCA Camp Stephens



Hal Studholme
He was another one of the “I’M THIRD” guys. Can’t say more than that!  
God First, the other person second and I'm Third.
Gord would embrace that recognition but his perspective would be;
Putting values, beliefs and family first

Second, not asking others to do anything you wouldn't do yourself

Third...keeping your spirit, mind and body healthy as you are the foundation for supporting others
Whether you knew Gord as the bottle boy at Falcon Lake, the camp counsellor at Camp Stephens, the volunteer leader in Jamaica, the guy who rescued you on Sand Lake, the Sport Consultant with Alberta Recreation and Parks, the volunteer with Special Olympics, as the man who loved to sail, or the guy with the horrible pink, green and white mints or as the guy who read stories to your kids or the guy who helped build your house or a member of the Canada Games Mission staff, the great listener or as the loving brother or uncle

We all shared one thing

Gord May was our friend and he made our lives better for knowing him

We all loved him and are proud to be part of his family

Fair winds old friend...
...he slipped away peacefully September 30, 2013.




If you have any thoughts or stories to add please do so in the comments section here or on the McCall Bros site.

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