Francis Norman Gotro ✵ 1917-1997

Francis Norman Gotro

Name at birth: Francis Norman Gotro (Norm)
Date of birth: January 12, 1917
Place of birth: Oba, Ontario, Canada
Date of death: May 29, 1997
Place of death: Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Resting place: Ocean View Cemetery, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
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Eulogy to the life of Norman Gotro (1917-1997)

A little over eighty years ago, an individual destined to be [our] father arrived on this earth. That life spanned the history of the 20th century: two world wars, a global depression, and saw the world turn from the age of horse and carriage, to the automobile, to the marvel of space exploration. Dad lived it all as vibrantly and dynamically as any man [we] have ever known. He was, for [us] at least, larger than the century and life itself. And though we infrequently spoke of such things, because they would embarrass us [all], [we] loved him deeply and respected him highly.

[Our] father was a man of deeply held principles. He was a man about whom it was, is, and will, be said, that he may have been wrong many times, but he was also many times astutely correct in his thinking. He was a man who, [we] believe, influenced this century with the millions of words he placed upon the editorial pages of this nation from the Maritimes to the West Coast. He was a man who fought in its world wars, who walked with Premiers and Prime Ministers, who wrote of the advent of a new world order that came to be, who disciplined his children to excel and compete against the last success and “not give a damn” for the ridicule, or praise, of others. “Aim for the moon,” he would say, “if you only get half way there, you’ll have gone one hell of a long way.” We have watched him take his risks, and accept his failures and successes. His life was the “Serenity Prayer”, full of courage, acceptance, and wisdom, (and a large quantity of Gotro stubbornness) which he passed on in liberal quantities to all of his children.

[Our] father loved his family. [Our] mother has been his wife for fifty years. Together, they brought nine children into the world, and though tragedy took one from them, they nursed the rest of us with discipline and affection, literature and music, history, and had the willingness to “let go and let God” take care of us when our independence mastered even them. The old house on Sixth Avenue would rock with our wars and our laughter, our extravagant Christmases and Dad’s fabulously huge summer “Smorgas-cooks”, and though she never said so, I know my mother knew Dad was teaching [his boys]to play poker and throw dice in the basement. It was the loudest, the most disorganized, the happiest, and the safest house in all the world. And in the middle of it all, “the Chief” held court, the loudest of us all.

Quick to anger and stubborn as Beelzebub, Dad’s forgiveness came as suddenly as the storm clouds that preceded it. The phrase, “Wait til your father gets home.” was a monumental threat for a [young child]. Today, [we all] wish [we] could hear those words again and see him striding round the corner of Balaclava and Sixth, his arms swinging and those short strong legs eating ground faster than men twice his size. [We] would have defied anyone to go on a walk with him as [we all did]. And [we]would dearly love to hear that late evening yell up the stairs after lights out, “Settle down up there, or by the gods of war, I’m coming up!” For years, [we] believed [our]father to be possessed by Jupiter and Mars and would descend upon [us] in the night with the full fury of the Apocalypse. But each Saturday morning, they would be gone, and in their place would by [our] father, lining up eight stacks of quarters, each one a coin higher than the other, according to age, or default of chores, on the dining room table. In Dad, anger was a cover for generosity and he never fooled us, even when he meant it, for a minute.

Today, we are told that Dad is dead. [We] do not accept this. Christ said that no man could come to his father except through him, that those who ate of his body and drank of his blood would find themselves in eternity. In human terms, [our] father’s flesh and blood is yet alive in the sea of deep blue eyes, independent spirits, and tenacity for life [we] see before [us] today. And though we are saddened that he had to leave us suddenly, [we] know that he is not gone, not really. His features, his little crooked grin, are etched in the faces of almost all of [us] who sit [together] today. [Let us end], therefore, by [closing our eyes] not to weep or grieve, but to burn [our] memories of his life with [us] deeply into [our] minds. [We will] carry that happiness joyously with [us] from this place. [Let us] tell him [we’re] still aiming for the moon and that [we’ll] see him when [we] get there. [We will] not write “-30-” after his name, and not mourn; he has not passed away, he has merely passed a torch for [us] to hold. It will always be there to help [us]see our way home.

Written by Paul Gotro (son)– June 4, 1997

Edited to include the sentiments of all of Norm’s family who loved him dearly.

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