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"TAG" 2003 Obituary


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TAGGART o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-12-12 published
'Galloping Ghost' of Canadian football made five halls of fame
By Randy RAY, Special to The Globe and Mail Friday, December 12, 2003 - Page R17
Ottawa -- If Gordon PERRY had one regret following his illustrious career in Canadian sports, it's that he never competed as a sprinter in the Olympics.
A glance at the Moncton native's résumé clearly shows why he never ran for Canada at the Games: He didn't have time.
Mr. PERRY, who died in Ottawa on September 18 at the age of 100, competed successfully in seven sports. His extraordinary feats earned him a place in five Canadian sports halls of fame: Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, Quebec Sports Hall of Fame, New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame and Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame.
Friends and colleagues have compared him to Canada's Lionel CONACHER, who played hockey and football, and American Deion SANDERS who was both a baseball and football player. Mr. PERRY, however, excelled in football, baseball, hockey, boxing, track and field, curling and swimming.
As a kid, "all he ever wanted to do was play sports," says his son Gordon PERRY Jr. of Ottawa. "It seemed like he always had a baseball glove on his hand or skates on his feet. And he could run like a deer." Born of Welsh ancestry in Moncton on March 18, 1903, Mr. PERRY went to school in Moncton and Quebec City. His father Harry, was a composer and musician who played the organ at a church in Quebec City.
Mr. PERRY, who began his working career in banking and stocks in Carleton Place, Ontario, boxed as an amateur in Quebec City and was a goaltender in the Bankers' Hockey League, a highly competitive loop in the 1920s and '30s that played at the Montreal Forum. As a sprinter, Mr. PERRY posted times of 10 seconds and under for 100 yards.
But he's best known for his role as captain of the undefeated Montreal Amateur Athletic Association Winged Wheelers that beat the Regina Roughriders 22-0 in the 1931 Grey Cup game. Small and quick, and standing at just at five foot eight and 165 pounds, PERRY was nicknamed the "Galloping Ghost" because of his elusiveness.
He was a four-time Eastern all-star in the Canadian Rugby Union, precursor to today's Canadian Football League. In 1931, he won the Jeff Russel Trophy as the player who best combined athletic ability with sportsmanship. Sir Edward BEATTY, president of the Canadian Pacific Rail, awarded PERRY the trophy, which earned him $200 on top of his football salary of $1,200.
From 1928 to 1934, the Wheelers squad was built around Mr. PERRY.
"I played both ways," he told The Ottawa Citizen on the eve of his 100th birthday. "I didn't often sit down, that's for sure." He once told the Montreal Gazette the secret to his success against bigger men was that "You can run like hell when you're scared." There was one time, however, when Mr. PERRY couldn't run fast enough.
"He was playing in Montreal against Ottawa and he laughed at a lineman," recalls his son. "When the teams came back here [Ottawa], the guy caught up with my dad and he was carried off the field with three broken ribs. He did not always get away." Mr. PERRY often said baseball was his favourite sport, a game he played with grace and skill. He was invited as a young teen to go to Boston to play but his father would not let him leave Moncton. Later, as a centre-fielder in Montreal, he helped his Atwater Baseball League team win five championships in seven seasons.
After retiring from football in 1934, Mr. PERRY, took up curling. After settling down in Ottawa in 1941, he won curling's Royal Jubilee Trophy in 1953 and 1956. At age 60, he scored a rare eight-ender while competing in a provincial event, says his son, who is president of the Ottawa Curling Club, which for 42 years has run a spring bonspiel in his father's name.
In Ottawa, he worked in several positions with the Bank of Canada. When he retired in the early 1970s, he was involved in the printing and distribution of Canada Savings Bonds -- ironically, working alongside Ron STEWARD/STEWART/STUART, who was once a fleet-footed running back with the Ottawa Rough Riders.
Mr. PERRY continued to curl until he was 90 and played his last round of golf at 98. At 100, the honours continued to pour in. In the 1903 Canadian Football League season, Mr. PERRY was named honorary captain of the Montreal Alouettes.
Mr. PERRY and his first wife, Jay KEITH, had three children, Gord Jr., Pat and Lynn. His second wife was Betty THOMAS. Ms. KEITH and Ms. THOMAS died in their 60s; at age 91, Mr. PERRY married Muriel TAGGART, then a 72-year-old widow. He leaves his wife and three children.

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