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File photo by Tony Veltri
The Wright Cause.
Gord Wright is surrounded by a group of employees of the Beijing Retired Cadres Management Bureau in front of the Cairn marking the birthplace of Sir Frederick Banting, back in October 2005, during their tour of the Banting homestead. The Chinese delegation presented Mr. Wright with a tie to commemorate his role in drawing attention to the need to protect the property, and turn it into an education centre devoted to diabetes and good health. Mr. Wright died Thursday afternoon at the age of 96.

Gord Wright dead at 96

Posted November 15, 2007

Gordon Alexander Wright lived long enough to realize one of his wishes - the preservation of the Banting homestead which on Monday night was officially designated a cultural heritage site.

Mr. Wright died Thursday afternoon while listening to his son Alec, himself active in the Banting homestead issue. read him the news story from Monday night's decision. He was 96.

Gord was a long-time educator and served as principal at Banting Memorial High School from 1969 to 1974.

At this post, funeral details were not yet provided. A memorial service is being planned in his honour on Jan. 19, 2008, a day after he would have turned 97.

Below is a biography of Mr. Wright as published on wikipedia:

Gordon Alexander Wright, Canadian educator, athlete, government administrator, naval officer, camper, author and leader of youth, 1911 - 2007.

A farm boy from South-Western Ontario, Gord Wright was a competitive athlete who at Ontario Agricultural College set a 17 year high jump record as first Canadian using the Western Roll. He won the University of Toronto "Bronze T" for being a member of 3 championship teams in different sports: football, gymnastics and wrestling.

He was Canadian Champion, Wrestling (Greco- Roman) and was denied his berth on the 1936 Berlin Olympics Canadian Team as he taught Schumacher high school Chemistry, Physics and part- time Physical Education. The last was considered earning his income from his sport, thus contrary to the amateur definition. He pioneered community evening classes in high schools in Ontario, where immigrant miners families learnt English in exchange for teaching European crafts and trades in the northern Ontario gold-mining town of Schumacher.

Gord married Ruth L. Baker, one daughter of his biology professor, Albert "Jack" Wesley Baker of Guelph. Prof. Baker taught at OAC and in the medical faculty at University of Toronto, along with Dr. Sir Frederick G. Banting, co-discoverer of insulin. Banting, a farm boy from Alliston, Ontario, was a lifelong inspiration to Gord Wright.

Gord and Ruth successfully raised a daughter and two sons.

He volunteered for the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, "the Wavy Navy", where he served in many trans-Atlantic crossings in corvettes on convoy duty as an Encryption Officer. He later was posted to HMCS Niobe in Greenoch, Scotland, as a Lieutenant Education Officer where he taught unarmed combat and raised the literacy of enlisted men.

After World War II, Gord served with the Department of Veterans Affairs demobilising troops and running training programmes to re- introduce them successfully into a changed society. In 1947 Gord was appointed to the Ontario Government as Director of Physical and Health Education, which post he held until resigning in 1962 to accept the new national position of Director of Fitness and Amateur Sport in Ottawa under Diefenbaker's Conservative government. After a change to the Liberals, under a new Minister, Judy LaMarsh, Gord resigned and returned to teaching high school.

The Ministry of Education urged him to apply to a school in farming country north of Toronto whose Vice-Principal had just died: Banting Memorial High School in Alliston, birthplace of Sir Frederick Banting. Gord took it, moved the family to Alliston and he and Ruth became major contributors to the area, a wealthy grouping of tobacco, potato and sod farms, with many prize-winning cattle herds.

Gord helped found the Alliston Potato Festival and the Sir Frederick Banting Educational Committee. The thrust of the latter was to establish a forum for educating the public and diabetics about the disease and its management, and to establish a camp for juvenile diabetics for them to learn and help one another.

Gord has won many local and international awards, the latest being Ontario's Senior Citizen of the Year, 2006, and being inducted into the South Simcoe County Museum's Wall of Fame, 2006. He has been a popular writer of local articles and a regular supporter of the University of Guelph, where he and Ruth contributed the Baker- Wright Walk through the research Arboretum.

His Class of OAC '33 set a record of meeting annually for 70 years and set a precedent with the Year '33 Bursary to worthy students, many of whom gratefully continued their studies and went on to major contributions to agriculture and science.

Gord and class-mate, Bert "Honey" Martin, led their class into researching and sponsoring several well-received books on leading professors at OAC/University of Guelph.

Gord helped found several professional and sports organisations and served on many executives, including the Presidency of Canadian Association of Physical and Health Education and Recreation. He strongly believed in the value of camps to broaden and bond youth while teaching them skills, knowledge and leadership, and he established the Ontario Athletic Leadership Camp at Lake Couchiching and the Ontario Camp Leadership Centre at Bark Lake. Each has graduated some 50,000 high school boys and girls many of whom proceeded to major contributions in many fields around the world. Gord at age 90 wrote "Leadership - Beyond the Playing Field" with journalist, Katherine Mooij of Beeton, the book being a critically acclaimed guide to teaching youth to be leaders using the medium of athletics. Published by YorkWright Planning Associates Ltd., it is also available through C.A.P.H.E.R., the non-profit professional body. (Posted 2007-NON-11 by son)

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