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Born: Dec 27, 1939

Date of Passing: Mar 21, 2021

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December 27, 1939 – March 21, 2021

Surrounded by his four children, his wife of 55 years, his dog Elvis, and a whole lot of love, Gord passed very peacefully into the arms of the angels on the evening of March 21, 2021. He fought hard, but after a 20 year battle with cancer, he needed to rest. He was able to be at home for his last few days, and for that we are eternally grateful.
Gord was born in Winnipeg, MB on December 27, 1939. He moved to Selkirk as a young boy and spent his formative years there. He always considered Selkirk home and had many entertaining stories from the adventures he had with his friends and family in his early years. His parents, Charles and Violet Tovell, provided the foundation for his lifelong connection to family and modelled a solid work ethic. He was lucky to have two sisters, Nadine and Debbie, whom he loved very much. He often talked about the time he spent at his Grandpa and Grandma Merrick's farm in Glenella, MB and the wonderful memories of warm summers spent with the sense of freedom a child has when surrounded by nature and the love of extended family.
After high school he attended the University of Manitoba where he spent most of his time at St. John's College. It was there that he met his best friend and life partner, Lynne (nee Cosgrove). Both Lynne and Gord have very fond memories of their university days.
Married on July 17, 1965, Lynne was the love of Gord's life. They purchased their home on Harvest Lane in 1968 where they created a warm, loving environment for their four children, Jennifer Findlay (Reid), Nancy Tovell (Duane Millar), David Tovell (Andrea) and Jane Milne (Geoff). Growing up with Gord as a father was an adventure and life was to be experienced. The house was filled with pets, sports equipment, camping gear as well as neighbourhood children and adults alike. Gord was very social and formed strong friendships with many families in the neighbourhood whether through coaching sports teams, activities at H.V.C.C., chats in backyards, breakfast groups and many neighbourhood parties. So many lifelong friendships were created and the Harvest Lane/Valleyview connections that were made are still very evident to this day with the Scotts and Davidsons considered family.
Gord felt fortunate to have chosen education as a career. He spent 31 years as both teacher and administrator in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division. He was an original staff member of John Taylor Collegiate when it opened in 1964, and worked in eight different schools as well as the Board Office over the course of his time in the division. During this time he forged very special friendships with a large group of fellow educators who enjoyed each other's company in both work and play. Gord maintained many of these friendships long past his retirement in 1995. While he valued all of his relationships, most special to him was his original curling team that included John Proudfoot, Dennis Stefanson and Chris O'Grady. They were all born in 1939, all administrators in the division, and were steadfast and true friends to one another. They spent over 30 years curling together and we have no doubt they are reunited now in Heaven and once again able to continue their traditions of late night meetings and general shenanigans.
Gord was a man of strong faith. He was a member of St. Andrews Woodhaven Anglican Church since 1968 and held many roles as a leader in the church community during this time: Sunday School Superintendent, Lay Reader, People's Warden, Rector's Warden, and Honorary Warden. Christmas was his favourite time of year and he liked nothing more than to have as many members of his family gathered around as possible. His Christmas Eve parties on Harvest Lane are the stuff of legends and his reading of "Twas The Night Before Christmas" to his children and grandchildren is a tradition that will be carried on.
One of his favourite places on earth was the family cottage at Clear Lake. This was a haven for family time, which he cherished above all else, along with hiking, horseback riding, playing board games, and entertaining friends. These were golden moments for Gord. He enjoyed "rip-rapping", Happy Hours, dog-walking, and storytelling with his many lake friends.
Another favourite spot was Destin, Florida where Gord and Lynne spent many happy retirement winters. Gord loved the white sands, warm sun, and cocktails with new and old friends who would gather on a regular basis.
Gord understood that throughout life, his most important job was as a husband and father. He was an active dad, who fully participated in his children's lives, whether through coaching their teams, long camping trips in the summers, attending all school events and later in life by being a listening ear and sounding board. Over the past 18 years, this role evolved into being a grandpa. And what a grandpa he was! Whether it was watching his grandchildren compete in ringette, hockey, speed skating, soccer or softball, attending school concerts or award banquets, playing board games at the cottage, telling jokes, or tickling them on the couch, he was hands-on, active and so very proud of each and every one of them. They really were the light of his life. Teagan, Katie, Shae, Rya, Soren, Arlo, Bode, Airlie and Sienna will all carry his love in their hearts and share Grandpa stories for years to come. He loved them all very much.
Gord's life revolved around making connections. Whether professionally or personally, he really enjoyed people. He would talk to anyone and was genuinely interested in others' stories. He was inclusive, kind and said "I love you" often. So in Gord's memory, pour yourself a rum and Coke, put your arms around your loved ones, reach out, and connect.
Words cannot thank all of the wonderful caregivers Gord has had over the past 20 years in his cancer journey: Doctors Milner, Graham, Ogaranko and Anashara, along with the nurses at Grace CancerCare.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to CancerCare Manitoba, St. Andrews Woodhaven Anglican Church or the Winnipeg Ostomy Association.
The family would also like to say thank you to friends and neighbours for the many cards, flowers, gifts of food, and messages of love that have been sustaining us through the grieving process. And to Rev. Ian Mills for being with us on Gord's final day as we sent him on his heavenly journey. You are all amazing and so appreciated. Gord loved you all.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Condolences can be left at

"Love me tender, love me sweet, never let
me go. You have made my life complete,
and I love you so."


Make a donation to CancerCare Manitoba Foundation

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Mar 27, 2021

Condolences & Memories (15 entries)

  • So very sorry Lynne and family to hear of Gord’s struggles and passing. Frank and I remember him as a supportive colleague in my first years of teaching. Also I had the privilege of working and knowing you Lynne in my years in the inner city. We are thankful for the good memories and think of you often. Blessings to you and yours. Frank & Lynda Pisa - Posted by: Lynda Pisa (Colleague ) on: Jun 21, 2021

  • We are so sorry to hear of Gord’s passing. We will miss his friendly comments that he made while walking on Wasagaming Drive. - Posted by: Don Lepper and June Francis (Friend ) on: Apr 04, 2021

  • I was so sad to hear of Gord’s passing. Gord was a kind and caring principal. I was fortunate to work with him at both Lakewood and Robert Browning Schools. He trusted and supported his staff. We grew professionally under his leadership. He had a great sense of humour. One example is that in the week before Christmas he always arranged for Santa to land his sleigh on the roof of Robert Browning School. We would receive updates all morning over the P.A. system (from “CJOB” ) tracking Santa. Balancing hard work with fun and laughter created a very positive atmosphere. Lynn, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this sad time. - Posted by: Roslyn Roberts (Colleague) on: Apr 03, 2021

  • We were sorry to hear about Gord's passing. He was very courageous in his battle with cancer and, with the support of his family, remained as active as he possibly could. - Posted by: Carol and Wayne Guicheret (Friends) on: Mar 29, 2021

  • We were so sorry to hear about Gordy's passing. We enjoyed his entertaining curling stories and are thankful he was a part of our families (nee Stefanson) life. Our genuine condolences to Lynne and family. - Posted by: Cheryl & George Washington (Friends) on: Mar 29, 2021

  • Sending love from Indonesia. We feel honoured to have spent time with Gord and Lynne when they travelled to Salmon Arm to visit Jen, Reid, Teagan and Katie. Their arrival always meant adult time for us to enjoy with Jen and Reid as Teagan and Katie were happily surrounded by incredible grandparent love and action while Jen and Reid appreciated every moment of their rare free time. We also enjoyed seeing the three generations much love, energy and happiness in one room! The legacy of family, friendship, love and adventures will live on in the beautiful family Gord and Lynne created. Gord's love of life, family and friends shines through in this lovely summary as well as the many pictures. We are privileged to be a part of the lives of the Findlay family who embrace life just as Gord did. We are so sorry for the ache his passing will leave in the hearts of so many. - Posted by: Wendy and Derek Woodhurst (Friend) on: Mar 29, 2021

  • We were saddened to hear of Gord's passing. We recall with fondness and affection our high school years at Selkirk Collegiate Institute in the 1950's when Gordie and I were active in school life, friends and confidants as well as classmates. We spent much time together and formed a special bond. We were competitors at times and I still smile at the recollection of the school president election in 1958 when he prevailed over me and never let me forget. I mourn his loss but smile when remembering the events and occasions of those formative years. Although we drifted apart, as so often happens when we began our new lives, I think often of Gord, the lessons learned and the experiences shared. Sixty years blur but do not diminish the memories. We offer our sincere condolences to Gord's family and friends as we can fully appreciate the depth of their loss and the joy gone from their lives. - Posted by: Dale & Joan Stewart (High School Friends) on: Mar 28, 2021

  • I was so very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Gord during our last few years before retirement. He was without a doubt one of the finest. He was an outstanding mentor and counsellor to many and was the best support person I have ever worked with. I will always have so many grand memories of the time we spent together at SJCI / George Waters. When I think back to all the positive things that happened in my career, Gord is the 1st person who comes to mind. My sincere condolences to all of his family. - Posted by: Gary Hamilton (Co - worker) on: Mar 28, 2021

  • I met Gord when I came back to Manitoba and coached the St. James Canadettes Belle team. Gord was a great guy! He helped whenever he could, even if that meant dragging him out of the men’s room to take stats! He was very supportive of our efforts to see the girls succeed. He was a great story teller as well. I often remember the night at HCC during a community fundraiser when it was joke telling and he got up to tell a joke. The audience was in stitches before he even finished the joke! A true testimony to how Gord connected with people. He will always be in my memory. God Bless Gord! I’m sure he is telling that joke amongst his heavenly friends! Recast easy! - Posted by: Don Sally (Ringette ) on: Mar 27, 2021

  • So very sorry Lynn and families for your precious loss. Gord was a wonderful man in all walks of his life and all his accomplishments. He will forever live on in all the people that crossed his path and truly loved him. - Posted by: Margaret Wilkins (Long time friend) on: Mar 27, 2021

  • I had tears in my eyes when I saw that Gord had passed. I worked with Gord at Lakewood and Robert Browning Schools. He was a great principal; he cared so much for his students, staff and community. He was truly a leader in that he pursued professional development with his staff and made us all better educators. He also had such a fun loving streak - work was fun with him in charge. When I was principal at Heritage I was so pleased that he made a trip in to see me and check on how things were going; this was long after he had retired. Again, he was checking up on his former staff member to make sure she was doing okay. He truly was a “people person”. My deepest sympathies to all the family. May his memories be your comfort. Irene Thiry - Posted by: Rene (Colleague ) on: Mar 27, 2021

  • I taught at St. James Collegiate when Gord was the principal there. He was a fair and honest man who treated his staff fairly. I am deeply sorry for your loss. - Posted by: Edward Bailey (A fellow colleague at the St. James School Division. ) on: Mar 27, 2021

  • A lovely obituary for a lovely man. A favorite story is Gords telling of going to the theater to see "Tony and Tinas Wedding". Bless his heart. - Posted by: cath chalmers (long time rip rapping,Happy Hour-ing,cottage friends) on: Mar 27, 2021

  • Knowing Gord as a family friend through our childrens' speed skating, as my principal for a time, was a gift in my life. My sincere condolences to Lynne and his children. He will be missed. - Posted by: Bill Fisher (Colleague, friend) on: Mar 27, 2021

  • Our sincere condolences to you, Lynne, and family on the loss of Gord. We recall times in "ringette days" when he was coach of our daughter's team. We had enjoyable times with families and team members and were very appreciative of Gord's coaching skills. He will be greatly missed by family and friends. Our thoughts of deepest sympathy are with you at this sad time. Jeanette and Garry Kirk - Posted by: Jeanette and Garry Kirk (acquaintances) on: Mar 27, 2021

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