GORDON JOCELYN
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GORDON JOCELYN As we write these words, our father's body has become an active cadaver (oxymoron intended) in the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine - his final chance to give as the extraordinary teacher he'd been all his life. Gordon Jocelyn was born on May 26, 1920, in the kitchen of 80 Strachan Street in Stratford, ON. His parents, Arthur and Annie Pauline (Bennett) Jocelyn, were both raised in orphanages - and Gordon loved to say he "was borne of the thigh of Zeus," with no family to answer to. Gordon and his sisters, Irene (Bird) and Mary (Hazell), all took music lessons, doggedly and with some talent. Gordon in particular was a star child pianist. They received a strict, traditional education, leading our father toward lifelong rebellion and a firm dislike of organized religion. (We kids went to Sunday school, but only to learn the Bible stories, Gordon explained, since they are the foundation of much of Western literature). He thought he was the luckiest man in the world when he married Joy Martyn, she with "the best gams at Central High." Forever regretting that he'd lacked the courage to be a conscientious objector, he joined the Air Force - they had snazzier uniforms than the Army - and after the war travelled back overseas with his new wife. Returning from Europe, Gordon left music behind to become a Teacher and, soon, a father. Paula, Timothy, Marthe and Matthew filled the next many chapters in Gordon's life. "Blame my wife," he'd say, bursting with pride at how wonderful - after several missteps - we turned out to be. The heart of our home on Neville Park was the dining room table, where we were confined every evening from 6 until 7, learning to enunciate, to tell stories, to express opinions clearly. Sure, he wanted us to be free thinkers but we damn well better speak good English and distinguish between may and can. The happiest years of his teaching life were at Toronto's alternative high school, SEED, where learning was self-propelled and different every day. Here he could provoke, hold forth, inspire curiosity, and correct grammar. Dozens of his students remained his friends until the end. Gordon's world was miserably shaken by Joy's way-too-early death, followed by Paula's terrible accident, and a decade later her second, fatal collision only weeks before Tim died of AIDS. In the face of such huge loss Gordon's response was to keep giving. He joined the bereavement team at Casey House Hospice and read aloud to patients there and elsewhere, for many years. Slowly, he re-invented himself. He travelled to Europe via freighter, and to China. He was the Co-Host of CBC's From Now On, and then a stage and TV Actor. He bought new clothes and became quite the dandy. He refined his gourmet cooking skills. He read prodigiously and mentored many scholars and writers. He gave dictionaries as wedding gifts. His own copies were heavily annotated - especially the one used for solving crossword puzzles. For decades he began his mornings with the cryptic - before making his special blend of coffee - "to see whether I'm bright or not." He completed at least a million clues in his lifetime. A few other statistics: He was married for 34 years and widowed for 40. He put up with his children for a combined total of 190 years of his 96. He sat on his Rosedale balcony for approximately 900 hours a year for 3 decades. He spent thousands of hours more sitting in a darkened audience watching plays and concerts. His surviving children are writers and entrenched in the theatre. His granddaughters, Hannah and Nell Jocelyn, know the difference between sarcasm and irony - and use both to wicked effect. Gordon's precision with language impressed even the nurses during his final months in the Veteran's Wing at Sunnybrook. "I would be obliged if you were to assist me..." We will celebrate Gordon at the Berkeley Street Downstairs Theatre (26 Berkeley Street, Toronto), on Tuesday, December 20th at 4 o'clock. Refreshments to follow. In lieu of flowers, please find someone to read to.


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Published in Toronto Star on Dec. 3, 2016.
Memories & Condolences
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11 entries
December 22, 2016
Dear Matthew and Marthe,
I was very sorry to learn of your father Gordon's passing. By all accounts he was an engaging and interesting character and will be remembered fondly by many. My deepest sympathy to you the family.
Sandra Burk
December 7, 2016
I am sure that you must know how much Gord meant to so many of us at SEED. Certainly I can count on him as one of the people who played a most significant role in me becoming a member of the theatre community that has sustained me since my teens. I often tried to tell Gord how important he was although I suspect he always thought I was just being theatrical...I am grateful to have been able to share moments with him, through mutual friends, over dinner tables,in gardens, in the theatre, and over the years.

He was, and will continue to be, a great model of humour, intelligence, grace, and integrity. I am so thankful to have had him in my life.

My thoughts are with you all. Thank you for sharing your father with the rest of us.
December 5, 2016
MCI class of 61
" Never was there so much owed to so Few!" Quote from Winston Churchill after the Battle of Britain!
If I could use the same quote and apply it to All the Teachers who taught at Malvern Collegiate , Gordon would be one of the outstanding people in the Group!
Gordon was not only a dedicated Teacher. but a Caring person who went beyond what was expected of a Classroom teacher.
From what I remember , I was told that Gordon went to bat for me in writing a letter on my behalf , and recommended that I pass English Literature on my Grade 13 exam. That led to my matriculating and going on to College on an Athletic Scholarship which enabled me to enter into the teaching profession where I taught for 32 years in the same vane as I was taught at Malvern.
Gordon was not only a GREAT Teacher but a Beautiful Human Being!
May God Bless his Soul and look over all of his Family at this very sensitive time!
Kenneth Naples
December 4, 2016
Matthew, Marthe and Family,
Thank-you for the beautiful words of memory about a life well-lived and with deeply wonderful impacts on all of the many who had the privilege to learn from Gordon.
Sara Diamond
December 4, 2016
Mathew, Marthe and family
I taught school for 35 years in 12 different schools . I cant remember how many people I have worked with, but it must have been hundreds . I want you to know that I will never forget Gordon because he was the most compatible entertaining and worthwhile coworker I ever had.
So sorry that I won't be able to give my condolences in person. I am actually recovering from pneumonia in hospital myself

Bob Beardsley
Bob Beardsley
December 4, 2016
Gordon was such a beautiful, intelligent, captivating and very funny man. He was always a pleasure to spend time with. He will be greatly missed but I bet they are having a wonderful party with lots of wine in Heaven right now! Miss you Gordon and thank you for making all of our lives a little better.Lots of love.
Alli
December 4, 2016
As a teacher, Gordon filled a vacuum in my life. He continues to live in me. I am sorry that I will be out of the country on December 20 and so cannot join you in the celebration of his life.
Barry Cole
December 3, 2016
Remember discussing politics with Mr
Jocelyn while visiting Paula during our MCI days.
I knew nothing but he didn't call me on it. He expressed some of his view allowing an intelligent discussion. My condolences to his family. A Beach legend!!!
Bill
December 3, 2016
Hello, I wish I could've met you long ago. I am one of your friend's student. I heard many stories from your friend and I really wish that you can rest in piece. I remember when I gave your friend a chocolate bar and he gave it to you in the hospital. Right now, he is reading your biography as I write this. I hope you can rest.
December 3, 2016
Mr. Jocelyn was one of my favourite teachers. He would literally bang his head against the wall to ensure our attention while acting out scenes from Shakespeare. A great ambassador for the theatre, literacy, and living life to the fullest.
DAN LYON
December 3, 2016
Dear Matthew, Marthe and family:
I am sad to hear of Gordon's departure. Seeing him always did me good. He shared his strength and joy in life with everyone, even when he was the bereaved father and we were shattered friends. Gordon and Joy made beautiful, compassionate children: all my best to you. I am so sorry to miss the memorial, but I will be in Calgary spending time with my own dad. Gordon, I will be doing a lot of reading to someone!
love and best wishes
Deb O'Rourke
Deb O'Rourke
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