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J. Alexander LANGFORD


1931 - 2019
J. Alexander LANGFORD Obituary
J. ALEXANDER LANGFORD Q.C. December 7, 1931 - July 23, 2019 Peacefully, in Toronto, holding the hand of the woman he adored for nearly seventy years. Predeceased by his parents, Henry E. Langford, Q.C and Helen Langford. Treasured by his wife of sixty-two years, Marion Grace (Barker) Langford. Cherished by his children Mary (Langford) and J. Michael Rolland, Sarah Langford, Anne Langford Dotsikas and Peter Dotsikas, John and Eva (Kowalski) Langford, Jane A. Langford and Blair Freeman. Adored and revered by his grandchildren: Megan Rolland, Alexandra and Hollie Rolland, John Rolland, Caileigh Langford, Rhiannon Langford, Kate Dotsikas, Emily Dotsikas, Ben Langford, Ana Langford, Henry Freeman and Charlotte Freeman. Loved by his only sibling, Elizabeth (Langford) Julian (Larry Lundy). Celebrated by steadfast friends. Alex was a life-long scholar. He loved his high school years spent at the University of Toronto Schools (UTS) and won yearly academic prizes through graduation (1950). He was very proud of the liberal arts education he received from Victoria College, University of Toronto (Vic 5T4, Honours B.A. History), the 4th generation in his family to be educated on the 'old Ontario strand'. Deeply felt was that connection to his many ancestors who studied and taught there. He then studied law at Osgoode Hall Law School (LSUC 1958) and remained a tenured law student, reading the evolution of the law into his 80s. Even in retirement, Alex was an engaged participant in both the Economist Readers with the Academy of Life Long Learning and Learning in Retirement at Glendon College. He never travelled without a suitcase full of books, always reading several volumes simultaneously. For Alex, to learn was to live. For those who loved him, feeding his voracious appetite for knowledge with stacks of books was our regular habit until days before his passing. Following his call to the bar, Alex joined the then new firm Miller Thomson where he practiced corporate law for more than thirty years. He was a longtime director of E-L Financial Corporation, Magna International Inc., Victoria & Grey Trust Company, National Trust Company and many other private and closely held companies. As a scholar and historian, Alex had a deep appreciation of the law as the "cement of society" and its role in public affairs. This alone motivated his active involvement in the profession. In his first year of practice, he was Chair of the Junior Bar of the Ontario Bar Association (predecessor of the Young Lawyers section) and member of the Association's Executive Committee, on which he served continuously for over fifty years, acting as its President in 1985-1986. Over the years, he penned advocacy positions for the CBAO on provincial and national legislative initiatives and acted as counsel to civic leaders. In 2012, he received the Award for Distinguished Service from the Ontario Bar Association. Alex pursued all his briefs with honour and integrity in the finest tradition of the profession. Alex was a gentleman and a man of principle; influenced neither by popular opinion nor convention. Deeply loyal to the foundational institutions in his life, Alex was a committed volunteer. He served on Victoria University's Board of Regents for over a decade, as well as the Chancellor's Council at the University of Toronto. His service also extended to our democratic institutions. He was proud of his country and served as Honorary Solicitor to the Canadian Institute of International Affairs for thirty-years (creator and leader of its international briefing tours from 1963-1980). He volunteered in every provincial and federal election from the time he could vote until recently and welcomed a feisty conversation about the politics of the day. A proud member of the United Church of Canada, Alex had faith both spiritual and academic: he could and would engage with theologians on the history of the Protestant church and historical references in the Bible. He attended church weekly throughout his adult life and served on the executive of both Lawrence Park Community Church (1957 to 2006) and Timothy Eaton Memorial Church (2006-2016), acting as lay Presbytery representative for over fifty years. Alex received a Distinguished Service Award from the United Church for his leadership. Of all his stations, certainly his favourite was the tallest seat at the family table. He loved his large clan; delighting in (and occasionally egging on) their boisterous antics. He had a profound sense of occasion, the more pomp and circumstance the better! Every grandchild knew his distinctive wink. Always up for a rigorous debate, it pleased him to see his family members passionately advocating a position, even if it differed from his own (provided it was well-informed!). He patiently acted as the family Google to the end. At his core, Alex was a man in love with his wife and all the musical notes she brought to his life. His devotion to her was as pure as it was legendary. Seared in his memory until his final days was the story of his first meeting with Marion and throughout their long marriage, his love for her underscored his every action. Together, they created a dynasty defined by decency, joy, and service to others. For those of us blessed to travel within their orbit, their love made all things possible: the ripples continue in ways known and yet undiscovered. Theirs was an uncommon example for our modern age. A celebration of Alex's life will be held on Thursday, October 3rd at 10:30 a.m. at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church (230 St. Clair Ave W., in Toronto). In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the J. Alexander & Marion G. Barker Langford Scholarship at Victoria University (Office of Alumni Affairs & Advancement, 150 Charles Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1K9; http://www.vic.utoronto.ca/Giving.htm). Alex and Marion met as "freshies" at Vic in September 1950. In their golden years, they established this scholarship fund. For Alex, it reflected two things he loved: Vic and his beloved wife!
Published in The Globe and Mail from July 27 to July 31, 2019
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