Donald Hunter Gilchrist

4 entries
  • "So sorry. My father, Don Coates, enjoyed many tennis games..."
    - Louisa Coates
  • "To Christianne and family. Our deepest and sincerest..."
    - Betty Boums
  • "Dear Christiane, My deepest sympathy on the loss of Don. ..."
    - Anna Janigan
  • "Dear Christina and family please accept my sincere..."
    - Kathleen Graham
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Donald Hunter Gilchrist January 2, 1922 - March 14, 2017 Beloved husband of Christiane for almost 65 years, adored father of Nancy Ann, Donald (Jeanne DesBrisay) and Jean, and greatly loved Poppy to Charlotte and Anne Bell, and John, Sara, Kate and Meg Gilchrist. Don was predeceased by his siblings Christina, Gordon, Morag and Jean (Matthews).

Don was born in Toronto and joined the Toronto Skating Club (now the Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club) in February 1928, beginning an involvement with figure skating that lasted 89 years. He was one of the great Canadian figure skaters of his generation, in both the men and the pairs events. In his heyday, he even had a fan club.

In 1942 Don enlisted in the army and served for over four years, qualifying initially as a marksman and ending as a Captain in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. He graduated from the University of Toronto (Trinity) in 1950, a year in which he placed 9th in the World figure skating championships in the pairs event. He then entered the MSc program at the LSE where he met the beautiful Christiane Legier from Ostend.

Don and Christiane married in 1952 and in the same year Don joined Canada's Department of Defence Production stationed in Washington, where he and Christiane would be for over 12 years in two separate postings and see the arrival of Nancy Ann, Donald and Jean. In 1966, the family returned to Ottawa, where Don became Director General of the Trade Commissioner Service and a vice president of the Canadian Commercial Corporation. In 1974 Don was posted to Los Angeles as Consul General. Don later served for four years at the embassy in Holland as Minister-counsellor before retiring in 1986.

For most of his adult life Don was involved as a volunteer in skating administration. For over 40 years, he was Canada's leading representative in international figure skating, judging and refereeing at Olympic, World senior and junior and European championship events, as well numerous Canadian national and divisional championships. He served on the ISU technical committee for 14 years and on the Council for 12 years. While on the ISU Council, Don was credited for prevailing on the ISU to adopt synchronized skating as an ISU sanctioned event. For his efforts in the sport, he was inducted into the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Don also had a great love for tennis, taking up the sport as a self-taught player at age 26, complete with a slice forehand and deadly drop shot. He became an excellent player, becoming Ottawa's over 40 champion at ages 49 and 57. While posted in Holland, for his sportsmanship Don was honoured and inducted as a foreign member of the International Lawn Tennis Club of the Netherlands and later would be made a member of the International Lawn Tennis Club of Canada. When he could no longer play singles tennis, Don took up golf, ceasing only after an aortic valve replacement at age 87. His last few years were difficult, which he endured with equanimity. While Don had a very full life, with work responsibilities and figure skating consuming so much of his time, Don was a dedicated, involved and loving (and much loved) husband, father and grandfather.

At a later date the family will hold a reception at which friends can listen to the jazz that Don so enjoyed from an early age and celebrate his charmed life.

Condolences may be forwarded through

Funeral Home
Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles - Newbigging Chapel Limited
1403 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, ON M4G 3A8
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Published in The Ottawa Citizen from Mar. 18 to Mar. 20, 2017
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