Community remembers former mayor as ‘a man of true honour’

November 28, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

A former mayor of Orangeville is being remembered for the lasting impact he had on the community. 

Gordon Courtney, who spent 15 years as a municipal politician at the back end of the last millennium, passed away at the Trillium Health Partners – Mississauga hospital on Friday evening (Nov. 22). He was 92 years old. 

Several dignitaries, both past and present, have had their say in recent days on a man who helped to guide the redevelopment of Broadway, and played a major role in the opening of the Avalon Care Centre.

“He was a man of true honour, integrity and commitment to his family, and the residents of Orangeville. He had a real sense of humour and valued others’ opinions,” said former Mayor Mary Rose, who served alongside Mr. Courtney on Orangeville Council from 1985 to 1991. 

“I have a special place in my heart for Gord because of his warm welcome when I was first elected to Council. He offered non-judgmental help and advice. I chose Gord to swear me in as mayor in 1991, after he retired from politics. We will all miss him very much,” she added.

Born and raised in Orangeville, Mr. Courtney spent much of his life living in, working in, and serving the community. For years, he and his wife, Jessie, owned and operated Coffee Corner Restaurant in town. The duo closed the eatery in 1976, with Mr. Courtney going on to establish Gord’s New and Used Furniture, which they ran until their retirement in 1990. Gord would spend six years as an Orangeville Councillor from 1976 to 1982, before being elected as mayor. He would serve in that role for nine years, eventually retiring from the municipal political arena in 1991. 

Alongside his many years of political service, Gord enjoyed volunteering with the Salvation Army, and was a proud member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the PROBUS Club of Orangeville. In 2012, Mr. Courtney was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his many years of service to the community.

Drew Brown, a former Orangeville mayor, remembers Mr. Courtney as a calm, steady influence amongst Council, who helped shape the future of the community by providing leadership on several key projects during the 1980s. 

“As mayor, during my first term as a councillor, (Gord) guided us through a number of contentious issues, such as the redevelopment of Broadway. His affable manner, sense of humour and innate goodness often helped smooth rough waters, as did his obvious love for the town, and his desire to do what was best,” Mr. Brown stated. “The town owes much to Mayor Courtney. His story reminds us that good guys don’t always finish last. Indeed, sometimes good and decent people finish first. And Gord Courtney was a good and decent man.”

A visitation service for Mr. Courtney was held at Dods and McNair Funeral Home on Tuesday (Nov. 26), with his funeral held at the same location on Wednesday. Flags at Town Hall have been lowered to half-mast in his honour.


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