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 www.mountpleasantgroup.com. In lieu of flowers, donations to your favourite food bank may be made.
Regrettably, no memorial service is planned at this time. Gordon's family hope to host an in-person celebration when social gathering becomes possible. If you wish to be advised of a future service, please email Elinor at email@example.com.