In memory of

Gordon Francis Whitmore

December 30, 2021

Gordon Francis Whitmore
December 30, 2021
It is with much sadness that the Whitmore family announces the passing of Gordon Whitmore on the evening of December 30, at the age of 90. He leaves behind his wife of 67 years, Margaret Dawn Whitmore, his three daughters, Christine (Mike), Elinor, and Merrie (Mike), and his three grandchildren, Christopher, Carmen, and Malcolm. He also leaves behind his sister, Margaret (Ralph) Schneider and their two children Joan and Michael (Nathalie). He was also especially fond of his double-cousins Neil (deceased), Don, Alec, Edna, and Robert and their families.
Gordon was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the son of Ernest and Ann Whitmore. He began his education at the University of Saskatchewan where he received an HBA and MA in physics under the mentorship of Dr. Harold Johns. He was awarded the National Cancer Institute Fellowship in Radiation Physics to attend Yale where he graduated in two years with his PhD in biophysics. Gordon loved being involved in a new and developing scientific field and was proud to count many esteemed international scientists among his friends and colleagues. In 1956 he was hired by the Ontario Cancer Institute at the soon-to-be-completed Princess Margaret Hospital where he happily remained for the entirety of his career.
Gordon served at the University of Toronto as Chairman of the Department of Medical Biophysics (1971-1981) and Associate Dean of Basic Science (1974-1977), and at the Ontario Cancer Institute (OCI) as Head of the Physics Division (1980-1990), and Head of the Experimental Therapeutics Division (1990-1996). He retired in 1996 as Professor Emeritus, Department of Medical Biophysics at UofT and Senior Scientist Emeritus, Experimental Therapeutics, OCI. After his retirement, Gordon continued to consult internationally including being chosen to represent Canada as a member of the Review Panel for NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training (NSCORT).
Over the more than 40 years he worked in the field, Gordon collaborated with dozens of talented students and colleagues, published over 100 papers, and received a number of awards. The awards he was most proud of include the David Anderson-Berry Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1966); his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1972); the Failla Award, from the Radiation Research Society (1978); and the UHN Global impact Award (2017) which he shared with his longtime friend and colleague, Jack Cunningham. This last award acknowledged his “pioneering work in medical physics and his vision in shaping the field of medical physics in Canada and around the world”.
Gordon divided his recreation time between traveling and his cottage. In 1960 Gordon spent the summer building the family cottage, acting as carpenter, plumber, electrician and stone mason. This cottage served the family well for 50 years, providing great opportunities for recreation and close and enduring friendships. Gordon loved to travel both for work and with his family, ultimately setting foot on all seven continents. He shared his love of extended camping trips and sailing, especially to isolated, far-flung, and less-traveled destinations with his wife and daughters. These trips have left his family with many cherished memories and shared experiences.
Gordon was quietly proud to have heard his father mention he was a man of many talents, and that is certainly how his children and friends will remember him. He shared his many interests and skills with his daughters, always wanting them to have the skills and confidence to navigate any situation or difficulty they encountered.
Gordon showed his love and kindness through deeds: providing home and garden maintenance to friends and family; supporting his grandchildren’s science projects; sending weekly jokes to an ailing cousin; and a decades-long volunteering commitment to Habitat for Humanity where he put his construction talents to good use. Everyone knew he loved and appreciated his beautiful wife, Dawn. He acknowledged that much of what he did was made possible with her love and support. They were a team in building a home, traveling, and raising a family.
His family would like to tell him that he will be greatly missed, especially for his quick wit and great storytelling. But he taught his daughters well. You don’t need to worry, Dad. We’ve got this.
Given the current COVID conditions, a small family service will be held at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, with a memorial service to follow when a larger in-person gathering becomes possible.
Online condolences can be made at In lieu of flowers, donations to your favourite food bank may be made.


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Jim Till (Colleague)

Entered January 3, 2022 from North York

Gordon and I were born in the same year (1931) and became colleagues and friends as students in the Physics Department at the University of Saskatchewan and in the Biophysics Program/Department at Yale University. We then both did a postdoctoral year at Connaught Medical Research Labs in Toronto with Lou Siminovitch and Angus Graham. We then shared a laboratory in the Physics Division of the newly-established Ontario Cancer Institute. The Division was led by an early mentor of both of us at the University of Saskatchewan, Harold Johns. It was Gordon who first got me involved in research, by suggesting that I become a summer student under Harold's supervision. As time went on, our research interests diverged, as I became increasingly involved in research on stem cells, in collaboration with Ernest McCulloch, while Gordon continued to make internationally-recognized contributions to radiation biology. We both continued to work at the Ontario Cancer Institute, and its successor, the Princess Margaret Cancer Center, until we both retired. I have many fond memories of time spent with Gordon and Dawn. Joyce and I send condolences to Dawn, Margaret and the entire Whitmore family.

Kathy bandula (Friend)

Entered January 3, 2022 from Toronto

Please accept our deepest condolences on the loss of your husband, father and grandfather.
Wishing you strength and love during this difficult time.
Joe, Kathy, Christian & Petra

Judith Malvern (Friend)

Entered January 3, 2022 from Pickering

Elinor and Family

We send our deepest condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father. May the remarkable life he lived and your wonderful memories of him provide you with comfort at this very challenging time.

Judith and Dean Malvern

Gwen Greenstock (friend)

Entered January 3, 2022 from Pembroke

Dawn, I was so sorry this morning to learn of Gordon's passing. You had such a long and beautiful life together. Looking at the photos brought back some very happy memories for me. I remember when mom and dad went to your wedding. As I have learned this past 18 months, grief has its ups and downs and one never knows when it will hit. Your family will be a great support to you, while they in turn will be grieving their father and grandfather. I sometimes forget that. May Gordon rest in peace and may your memories truly be a blessing for you. With much love and sympathy. Gwen Johns Greenstock

Suzanne Dunford (Friend)

Entered January 3, 2022 from Deep River

It was such a shock to read the obituary of Gord this morning in the Globe. On behalf of Marguerite and John Hunt and family, I am sending our deepest condolences to Dawn, Christine, Elinor, and Merrie, and families. Gord was Dad's best friend. He was Dad's saviour after his stroke and has kept up with him through his entire life. Mum is so very sad and hopes to speak with Dawn soon. Hugs to all of you. Suzanne (Suzie) on behalf of the family


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