By Lincoln DePradine
The late entrepreneur and broadcast executive, Fitzroy Gordon, was a “credit to his race’’, according to Pastor Errol Lawrence.
“Fitzroy Gordon was a credit to the human race; a great man, not just in Canadian history, but also in world history,’’ Lawrence said at Gordon’s funeral last Friday at Global Kingdom Ministries in Scarborough.
Gordon, who turned 65 on March 19 last, was founder and Chief Executive Officer of Toronto’s radio station G98.7 FM. He died at hospital April 30. Almost two years ago, he suffered a stroke and heart attack .
Many, from all strata of society in Canada and abroad, joined the family in mourning’s his death, calling Gordon – who was popularly known as “Mr G’’ and “Dr Love’’ – a “giant’’, a “fierce warrior’’, a “man among men’’, a “role model’’, and a “warm and caring person’’.
He also was described as a man of “extraordinary vision’’ and “trailer’’, who “changed the face of radio’’.
The funeral was preceded on Wednesday with a “Community Tribute and Celebration’’ of Gordon’s life at the Jamaican Canadian Association Centre.
At Friday’s four-hour service, which was broadcast and web-streamed live, Gordon was eulogized in words of scripture, poetry and song by relatives, friends, community members, religious leaders, politicians, and current and former G98.7 employees. Tributes to Gordon, and messages of condolence, also were received via video.
“This is a big loss for all of us,’’ said funeral attendee Mitzie Hunter, recalling the support she received from Gordon and G98.7 when she first ran as a candidate for elected provincial office in 2013.
Gordon, who “left a lasting legacy for all to enjoy’’, contributed by raising “a voice for the Black and Caribbean community and he made us proud,’’ said Hunter, Liberal MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood.
Live tributes also were offered by Clarington council member Granville Anderson, and two NDP representatives, Laura Mae Lindo and Andrea Horwath. There was none from the Ontario government or the ruling Conservative Party.
“The GTA, our province and our country are poorer for having lost him (Gordon). But, friends, looking out at this room this afternoon, I believe there is no reason to despair,’’ said Horwath, Ontario opposition leader and head of the NDP.
“In his work, in his perseverance, in his mentorship, and in his relationships, Fitzroy’s example, his light, continues to shine for all of us to follow.’’
By the time Gordon arrived in Canada in 1979, he had developed a passion for music and media, and also was known for his Christian devotion. He continued to pursue all three after making Canada his new home.
Gordon, who was leader of a Christian ensemble in Jamaica called “The Heavenly Echoes’’, is said to have supported Christian education in Canada. His two youngest sons are students at Crawford Adventist Academy, East Campus.
Among other things, Gordon founded the Maja Awards – an annual competition and concert recognizing and celebrating Canadian Gospel music.
“Fitzroy talked about Jesus all the time,’’ Pastor Lawrence said.
Gordon, added longtime friend Selwyn Richards, was “passionate and driven’’. As well, he was “not only a Godly man, but also compassionate’’, said Richards.
The late Jamaica-born CEO also worked in print and broadcast media, while relentlessly pursuing his dream of establishing radio and television stations, with programming primarily aimed at Caribbean and African people in their homelands and in the Diaspora.
In 2011, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission granted him a licence to operate G98.7. He obtained a TV broadcast licence from the commission in October 2014.
“Fitzroy Gordon made Canada know love,’’ Lloyd Wilks, Jamaica’s consul general in Toronto, said at the service.
“I love that man. As a Jamaican man, I am proud,’’ Wilks said to a standing ovation.
Alicia Wright-DaCosta, G98.7’s Chief Operating Officer, commenting on the service attendance, said “it would have meant a great deal to Fitzroy to see all these people here to support him’’.
Wright-DaCosta and the staff of G98.7 have committed themselves to continuing Gordon’s legacy.
“Fitzroy is the person who gave so many people an opportunity to display their talent that nobody else allowed them to get recognized,’’ said G98.7 broadcaster Mark Strong.
Strong and Jemeni, who formerly paired as broadcasters on FLOW FM, now are 6 am – 10 am co-host on G98.7.
“Fitzroy Gordon showed us how it is to stand in the face of adversity and continue to stay focused on your vision and destiny,’’ Strong said in an interview. “We continue to keep the spirit alive not only on the radio, but also in the community. We’re going to make sure the radio station is entrenched in every part of the fabric of Toronto, Ontario, Canada and the Caribbean at large.’’
Gordon “really has given us a voice and a platform’’, admitted Jemeni. “Mr Gordon brought myself and Mark back together for the city and allowed us to live in our passion,’’ she told The Caribbean Camera.
“He definitely left a huge legacy in the world of journalism, radio and broadcasting in this country.
Gordon is survived by his wife, Marvette, and four children, ranging in age from 33 to 4.
The burial arrangements for the late Fitzroy Gordon were entrusted to Covenant Funeral Home, founded by Toronto-based Luann Jones.