The first thing you observe about Mr. Marvin Gord (that is, after noticing his decidedly youthful appearance), is how knowledgeable and fearlessly independent he is. Mr. Gord (or Marvin, which he prefers) continues to live in his own home and is fully in charge of his affairs. At 99 years of age, Marvin has lived an extraordinarily accomplished life where he has successfully pursued multiple careers. It is clear that he has no intention of slowing down now.
As a Second World War RCAF and RAF veteran, Marvin was a radar specialist who helped pilots navigate the dangerous skies above Germany, England and Italy during the war. (He wanted to be a pilot, but because he wore glasses, was disqualified). After the war, Marvin became a pharmacist, the VP of marketing and merchandising for some of the largest Canadian retail companies, a lawyer, a finance and human resources professor, and completed the Canadian Securities Course. The man is a Swiss Army knife of professional skills.
This coming New Year’s eve, Marvin will turn 100; but before that happens, he’s on a mission to raise money for Baycrest – at least one million dollars – by taking one million steps from now until his birthday.
He was inspired by English war veteran Tom Moore, who captured international attention earlier this year after he raised a substantial amount of money by releasing a musical single and completing 100 laps around his garden with the aid of a walker, just prior to his 100th birthday.
Marvin hopes his own efforts will draw similar interest within Canada and beyond as he walks in support of Baycrest’s Safeguarding Our Seniors (SOS) Campaign. This fundraising campaign is raising money for critical protective measures and medical equipment to safeguard residents, patients, and staff who deliver care in the face of COVID-19; for equipment for clinicians to treat patients via telemedicine, and for patients and residents to connect with families.
“I thought to myself, if [Moore] raised millions by walking and singing around his garden, then what the heck! I already walk about five kilometers a day. I could walk 500 kilometers, one million steps, by my 100th birthday while supporting a vital institution,” Marvin says. “I’m not going to sing, though.”
Marvin will track his distance using a pedometer over the course of his daily, walking marathon.
So, why is he doing this for Baycrest?
Baycrest has played an important role in Marvin’s life. His mother, Eva Brownstone, was a longstanding, dedicated Baycrest volunteer and later, a resident in its long-term care home, The Apotex Centre, Jewish Home for the Aged. His late wife, Nancy Gord, benefitted from the compassionate care in Baycrest’s palliative unit in her final months. His aunt, Fanny Reitapple, also benefitted from Baycrest's care. Beyond that, Marvin is very proud to report that when his memory was assessed by Baycrest a number of years ago, he tested well.
To give back and honour the tremendous care his mother, wife and aunt received, and in recognition of “all that Baycrest does,” he has begun his journey - Marvin’s Million for Baycrest.
Asked what his secret is for a long, productive life, and how he is able to walk as much as he does, Marvin responds: “I eat well and exercise. My mind is active. I did a law degree in my 50s. I took my Canadian Securities course when I was 83 and got an A+.”
Of all the jobs he’s had, Marvin doesn’t hesitate for a second when asked which one he liked the most.
“I’ve had a million different jobs. But the best of the lot was as a college professor at Centennial College,” he says. “I loved the kids and they loved me.”
Asked what advice he has for the younger generations now making their way up in the world, Marvin directs the question to his grandson, Aaron Silver, who responds: “My Zaidah gave me the following advice. Don’t be afraid to take risks. You are only as good as your reputation and your word. Be generous with your time and money. And above all else, family is the most important thing in life.”
So what happens after Marvin completes his millionth step?
“I look forward to celebrating with my family and receiving a letter from the Queen wishing me a happy birthday.”
Born in Toronto on Dec. 31, 1920, Marvin Gord will celebrate his centennial at the turn of this calendar year. For more information or to support Marvin’s Million for Baycrest, please click here.
Michelle Petch Gotuzzo
Baycrest Health Sciences
416-785-2500 ext. 6932
Baycrest is a global leader in geriatric residential living, healthcare, research, innovation and education, with a special focus on brain health and aging. Baycrest is home to a robust research and innovation network, including one of the world’s top research institutes in cognitive neuroscience, the Rotman Research Institute; the scientific headquarters of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, Canada’s largest national dementia research initiative; and the Baycrest-powered Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, a solution accelerator focused on driving innovation in the aging and brain health sector. Fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, Baycrest provides excellent care for older adults combined with an extensive clinical training program for the next generation of healthcare professionals. Through these initiatives, Baycrest has remained at the forefront of the fight to defeat dementia as our organization works to create a world where every older adult enjoys a life of purpose, inspiration and fulfilment. Founded in 1918 as the Toronto Jewish Old Folks Home, Baycrest continues to embrace the long-standing tradition of all great Jewish healthcare institutions to improve the well-being of people in their local communities and around the globe. For more information please visit: www.baycrest.org