Alan Gordon was born on Thursday, February 5, 1931 in York Township to Gordon and Verna (Armstrong) Saunders. He was the oldest of three children with younger siblings Yvonne “Bonnie” and Kenneth.
Alan was schooled at D.B. Hood Community School, York Memorial Collegiate Institute and Ryerson Technical School taking Master Carpentry. Alan completed his five-year apprenticeship working in the city for Dave Zeggil. In fact, most of his apprenticeship was spent constructing the Kodiak Building on Eglington West. When reminiscing about those years Alan often said that Dave was a hard taskmaster but boy did he learn a lot. This working relationship flourished into a life-long friendship.
At the age of sixteen, Alan came to know a young woman by the name of Joan Dorothy Priscilla Harrison. Joan and her family were friends with Alan’s cousin Barb and her parents Amy and Howard. Joan's father had built a cottage at Lake Simcoe which was beside Amy and Howard's. Well, with time the relationship flourished and on November 4, 1950 Joan and Alan were married at St. Hilda’s Anglican Church at the corner of Eglinton Avenue and Dufferin Street.
For the first year of their marriage, Joan and Alan lived in an apartment. Following that they bought a piece of property at Jane and Wilson and Alan built their first home. The city continued to grow, with some of the homes in their area appropriated for the expansion of the 401 series of highways. Luckily their home was not chosen, but the writing was on the wall. This move upset Joan greatly, however, it was in the best interest of their family moving forward. The young couple moved to King City with their three children; Lynne (1951), Cheryl (1955), and Stephen (1961).
For the next ten years, Alan worked at Bradford Horshal Contracting. Soon after he ventured out and began his own business, Al Saunders Carpentry. However, Alan had dreams of becoming a firefighter from youth and he soon returned to school and became the newest member of the North York Fire Department. This turned out to be the best of both worlds because, given his work schedule as a firefighter, Alan was able to make time to continue working as a carpenter. He remained with the North York Fire Department for twenty years, never wanting to rise through the ranks as he valued the friendships he had created along the way too much. As one can deduce, friendships were very important to him.
The Saunders were close friends with Jeanie and George Anderson, who lived in Brant Township. The two couples spent many Saturday nights at Legion dances, where they specialized in the Jive and Waltz. Allan really enjoyed the big band music of the 1950’s. It was at this time that Alan was given the task of designing and building Jeanie a new kitchen. During their many trips north, Alan and Joan soon decided that this area would make the perfect home for them as well. In March of 1975, the Saunders bought the Twamley farm on the 8th of Bentinck, near Crawford. Alan was crazy about pigs and their farm soon began taking shape. Over the years, there was only one (make that two!) additions to the livestock, as Joan was given a goat (which she loved! and its kid (which could not be left behind) from Alan for her birthday. Joan soon found work with the Bank of Nova Scotia in Hanover and their new, rural life started to take form. Sadly, in 1988, the bottom fell out of the pig market and they were forced to sell their farm. The couple soon bought a 22-acre parcel of land that became their final home. In a few short years, they severed the property to include two building lots and Alan was tasked with the job of building a home for his sister Bonnie as well as one for Joan and him.
Needless to say, Alan had very little spare time. However, he did enjoy watching outer space programs, game shows and the Toronto Maple Leafs on TV once he had more leisure time. He also enjoyed reading books, especially science fiction and National Geographic and was a member of the local libraries. He spent countless hours maintaining their beautiful property and gardening, watching the birds and tending to his flowers. He also enjoyed a good game of crib, with an occasional game of poker thrown in.
Alan was deeply devoted to others. Joan, his children and grandchildren always came first, but he also made time to deliver and serve meals to those in need. He also was extremely kind to all forms of animals. Whether it was tending to animals on the farm or in more recent years enjoying the companionship of his dog "Misty," he definitely had a soft spot for furry, four-legged friends.
Alan was a loving, sincere, family man. His was strong, wise, and his genuine demeanour was always something to look up too. His dedication to his family had no limits, as he donated a kidney to his daughter, Cheryl, giving her 18 more years of life. Some other memorable stories of Alan included the time when he dug out the entire area for a 16-foot deep swimming pool by hand! You might think that is crazy, but as you will remember Alan cared deeply for his property and he did not want heavy machinery ruining his nicely manicured lawn and flowerbeds... so he did it himself. Imagine!
Joan also told a story of the time when Alan was building their home outside of Chesley. She arrived home to find that he had built an entire temporary staircase for her... to the roof of the house. The reason? Earlier in the day, Alan experienced a beautiful view from the rooftop and he wanted Joan to share this experience. So he spent a few hours building the stairs just to share a few moments with Joan. What devotion! Lastly, both grandsons remember many rides on the lawnmower with grandpa as he mowed the large lawn on the property. These stories along with many others will allow Alan's life and legacy live on for many years to come.
Sadly, in 2001 Alan suffered a massive stroke. In the years that followed his health continued to suffer and he relied heavily on the love, care and support of Joan to remain at home. Her devotion to him was second to none. In December of 2017, Alan made his final move and called The Village in Hanover his home. Here he gained a new support system and extended family that he enjoyed throughout his remaining days.
Alan passed away with Joan by his side, at The Village Senior’s Community on Monday, December 9, 2019 in his 89th year.
Beloved husband of Joan for 69 years. Alan will be dearly missed by his daughter-in-law Shirley Dadson of Kincardine; his grandsons Blake Ground and his wife Sophie Lv of Mississauga and Tyler Saunders of Kincardine. Brother of Kenneth and brother-in-law of Bill Morton and John (Judy) Harrison. Father of Lynne (Fred) Kofler and grandfather of Jeff and Phil. Alan was predeceased by his daughter Cheryl Ground (September 17, 2006), son Stephen (May 9, 2007) son-in-law Bob Ground and his sister Yvonne Morton.
Visitation will be held at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Chesley on Tuesday, December 17, 2019 from 11 a.m. until the time of the funeral service at 1 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to Grey-Bruce Animal Shelter, Heart & Stroke Foundation or The Kidney Foundation of Canada would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.Send to friend