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"AMB" 2003 Obituary


AMBROSE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-02-13 published
By Jack FORTIN Thursday, February 13, 2003, Page A30
Musician, husband, father. Born August 3, 1931, in Winnipeg. Died August 31, 2002, in Scarborough, Ontario, following a stroke, aged 71.
Gordie FLEMING/FLEMMING was a remarkable music talent, known internationally as a master of the accordion, especially in the jazz idiom. He was a life member of Local 149 of the Toronto Musicians' Association.
In show-business vernacular, Gordie was "born in a trunk." He began playing accordion when his older brother gave him lessons. His musical ability was such that he began performing publicly at the age of five. His schoolteachers often saw him being whisked away in a taxi to perform at theatres and radio stations in Winnipeg. By the age of 10, he was a working member of various bands in that city.
In 1949, Gordie lost his accordion in a fire at a Winnipeg hotel. With the insurance money, he headed for the bright lights of Montreal where he soon became an important part of that city's musical life. His accordion ability was complemented by the fact that he was also a gifted arranger and composer.
He had a marvellous ability to improvise and could string out complex bebop lines, leaving his listeners in awe. He often slipped a jazz phrase into ballads or commercial tunes, confirming that jazz was indeed his first love.
One of Montreal's busiest musicians, he wrote for local orchestras, shows, radio and television. He had perfect pitch and often wrote without reference to a keyboard. He was at home in every type of music from classics to jazz. For several years, he worked at the National Film Board as a composer and musician.
In Montreal, Gordie performed with many show business headliners: there was a wealth of home-grown talent in Montreal, such as Oscar PETERSON and Maynard FERGUSON, as well as other jazz musicians who were beginning to be noticed.
Gordie had said that when when he first heard bebop it was like entering another world. As his career indicates, he had no trouble in that world. He worked with many personalities including: Charlie PARKER, Mel TORMÉ, Hank SNOW, Lena HORNE, Englebert HUMPERDINCK, Dennis DAY, Gordon MacRAE, Cab CALLOWAY, Nat King COLE, Cat STEVENS, Rich LITTLE, Billy ECKSTEIN, Pee Wee HUNT, Arthur GODFREY and Buddy DEFRANCO.
He also performed with Tommy AMBROSE, Allan MILLS, Wally KOSTER, Tommy HUNTER, Bert NIOSI, Wayne and Shuster, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation jazz shows with Al BACULIS, and many other Canadian jazz musicians.
On Montreal's French music scene, Gordie performed on radio and television with Emile GENEST, Ti-Jean CARIGNAN, André GAGNON and Ginette RENO. He was a featured soloist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra on several occasions.
Internationally, Gordie toured France in 1952 and performed with Edith PIAF and Tino ROSSI. He had the honour to perform for former prime minister Pierre Elliot TRUDEAU at a Commonwealth Conference.
He participated with other top Canadian musicians in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation tour to entertain Canadian and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops in Europe in 1952 and 1968.
For me, a memorable experience was playing in a group with Gordie for several winters in Florida. A popular member of the Panama City Beach family of musicians, Gordie looked forward to his winter trek south. Many of the American musicians will miss him, as will the many snowbirds who looked forward to hearing him each year.
His extensive repertoire allowed Gordie to author a book called Music of the World, in which he wrote the music to 280 songs from more than 30 countries.
Gordie leaves his wife of 47 years, Joanne, and seven children.
Jack FORTIN is Gordie's friend.

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AMBROSE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-02-17 published
Born September 28, 1936, Cambridge, England, died on Sunday, February 15, 2004, at Mt. Sinai Hospital. On Sunday the world lost an exceptional man with a prodigious appetite for life. His loving family and Friends sit around his dining room reflecting on the rich tapestry of his experiences and this is what they speak of: his beloved family, English history, superb French wine, Mozart Symphonies, well-heeled shoes, wood panelled libraries, single malts, Russian spies, English pubs, broadcast electronics, romance languages, perennial gardens, opera librettos, animal documentaries, English public schools, Dickensian novels, pasta dishes, antiques, punting down the Cam, *and, and, and...*. He will be forever adored and honoured by his eternal love Shelley, magnificent daughters Leilah and Caroline, his wonderful son Keith, daughter-in-law Maria, gorgeous granddaughters Grace and Nell, Giancarlo in Salerno and his doting sister Jennifer in Devon. We will carry on his life loving tradition. Service will be held on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 at 2: 30 p.m. from Benjamin's Park Memorial Chapel, 2401 Steeles Avenue West (1 light west of Dufferin). Interment Pardes Shalom Cemetery. Shiva 30 Spruce Street. If desired, memorial donations may be made to the Terry Ambrose Memorial Fund, c/o The Benjamin Foundation, 3429 Bathurst Street, Toronto, M6A 2C3, 416-780-0324.

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AMBROZIC o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-04-07 published
Canada's Catholic leader, CARTER dies at 91
By Michael VALPY Religion And Ethics Reporter Monday, April 7, 2003 - Page A1
Three weeks ago, John TURNER met Gerald Emmett CARTER for their annual St. Patrick's Day drink. The former prime minister held the glass for his friend of 50 years while he sipped his Irish whisky through a straw.
When the retired cardinal archbishop of Toronto died yesterday morning at the age of 91, a reputation as richly coloured as the scarlet of his soutane died with him.
Canadian Roman Catholicism will probably never see his like again: a prince of the church who, while never unmindful of the meek and the poor, made no bones about being comfortable rubbing elbows with fellow princes of politics and business.
He was the close friend of prime ministers and premiers. He enjoyed socializing in the corridors of power with people like Conrad BLACK, Hilary and Galen WESTON and Fredrik EATON. He displayed an unabashed fondness for Progressive Conservative Party gatherings. ("I think at one Christmas party, I was the only Liberal there," Mr. TURNER said in an interview.)
Yet academics and religious and business leaders also spoke yesterday of a man with an acute understanding of Canada and its history.
They described an intense, intellectual democrat who believed he should speak out forcefully on the moral and political issues of the day and who welcomed debate with those who disagreed with him. And they talked of a cleric who profoundly understood the nature of the church and who welcomed ecumenism and Canada's emerging pluralism.
"He felt the institution of religion should have a public voice and he was not shy about exercising it," said Michael HIGGINS, principal of St. Jerome's University in Waterloo and co-author of My Father's Business, the 1990 biography of Cardinal CARTER.
"Whenever he spoke, his voice was strong, clear, public, undiluted and welcomed by political leaders even when they disagreed with him. It is an unfortunate circumstance that the marginalization of religious debate occurred at the same time as he was eclipsed by a stroke, retirement and age, at a time when his church needed him. He embodied a certain kind of churchman we probably won't see again."
Cardinal CARTER suffered a stroke in 1981 and retired in 1990.
Cardinal Aloysius AMBROZIC, his successor as archbishop of Toronto, said Cardinal CARTER "wanted to know what the movers and shakers were doing."
Cardinal AMBROZIC described him as a man totally engaged with his church and with his society -- an advocate for the poor, for immigrants and for the homeless.
"What I admired about him, what I found so instructive about him, was his sense of responsibility for the church and for society at large. He was very much a man of Vatican 2 [the church's 1962-65 ecumenical council] and he knew what the Catholic Church was about."
There was also, said Cardinal AMBROZIC, "his own personal style. He had panache."
The priest who rose from a working-class Montreal background to become the most powerful cleric in Canada met Mr. TURNER when the former prime minister was a young lawyer in Montreal doing legal work for the church. "He was a great human being who understood the balance between the religious and secular worlds," Mr. TURNER said.
"He loved tennis, and he had a wicked serve."
Former prime minister Pierre TRUDEAU consulted him on the Constitution in the early 1980s and became a close friend. At the celebration of Cardinal CARTER's 75th birthday in 1987, instructions were given that an entire pew was to be reserved for Mr. TRUDEAU in Toronto's St. Michael's Cathedral.
Mr. TRUDEAU delayed his arrival until just before the cardinal entered the church. "All eyes were trained on TRUDEAU until Cardinal CARTER arrived," said Dr. HIGGINS. "It was symbolic of the close relationship they had."
Toronto's Anglican Archbishop, Terence FINLAY, who first met Cardinal CARTER when they were both bishops in London, Ontario, in the 1970s, said the Roman Catholic Church in Canada had lost a great leader.
"He enabled us to bring our churches closer together. I certainly counted on him as a friend and colleague. He had an impressive understanding of Canada's history and political situations. He knew who we were."

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