IN MEMORIAM: Longtime columnist was ‘larger than life’

George E. “Gem” Mortimore had a passion for telling people’s stories

George E. 'Gem' Mortimore

Longtime Gazette columnist, award-winning writer, human rights champion and all-around kind human being George E. Mortimore passed away July 29, five days after his 94th birthday.

“I picture him at a typewriter or a keyboard, that’s the first image that comes to mind,” says Michael Mortimore of his father. “He wrote morning, noon and night. That was his passion.”

Better known as Gem to his readers for the acronym of his initials, Mortimore started his writing career early as a teenager contributing to the Cowichan Leader. For more than seven decades he never stopped putting words to paper until late last year, when age forced him to step back from the keyboard.

“He wrote opinion pieces for political think tanks, Readers Digest, for newspapers across Canada,” says Michael, one of Mortimore’s three sons. “He interviewed celebrities, wrote for radio … even when he was in the air force, he wrote for the air force magazine.”

From interviewing the Three Stooges to Bob Hope to Canadian hockey icon Tim Horton, there wasn’t anyone Mortimore couldn’t sit down and chat with.

“People loved him,” Michael says. “They really did, on a personal level.”

Mortimore was passionate about championing human rights and used his literary skills to bring attention to many situations. His film, “Eagles on the River,” made when he was a professor of anthropology at the University of Guelph, explored the lives of the Dokis First Nation. His 52-part series “The Strangers” won a National Newspaper Award in 1958 for its portrayal of the aboriginal experience in Canada.

“He was a real champion of native rights long before anyone else cared about them,” Michael says. “He was always advocating for human rights and he was certainly a champion of the economically disadvantaged.”

Michael has spent the last few years living with his father and taking care of him in the family’s beloved home on Langford Lake, a house that’s virtually the same as when Michael was less than a year old.

“It’s a hundred-year-old house and it’s never had any significant upgrades,” he says. “It’s kind of a part of me.” Michael has no plans to move anytime soon and remembers that his dad loved the spot.

“He really loved the house on the lake; the trees, the water.”

Above all, Michael remembers his dad as a writer and as a kind and generous person who could talk to anyone about anything.

“He was a good listener. My dad was quite the character. He had a full life, a wonderful life. He did follow his passion and I do admire him for that.

“My biggest hero in my life was my dad. A lot of people could say that, but it’s true. If more people were like that, we wouldn’t have too many troubles.”

Mortimore’s family is planning a memorial service in the upcoming weeks. For more information, please contact Michael at michaelmortimore1@gmail.com.

acowan@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Science fair draws best junior scientists from Vancouver Island to Victoria

200 young science enthusiasts share their inventions and discoveries at UVic

Young cyclist struck near Galloping Goose Trail

Minor injuries reported by police

Vic. Symphony, Jeans ‘n Classics will rock you with the Best of Queen

Post-Bohemian Rhapsody, Pops Series concerts bring British band’s music back into spotlight

LOCAL FLAVOUR: Farm Whisperer tackles tough subject of farm succession

Linda Geggie is executive director with CR-FAIR

New Coast Guard ship crashes into Ogden Point breakwater

‘It is fairly unprecedented that it would happen’

VIDEO: Keeping the hope alive, 28 years later

Annual Michael Dunahee Keep the Hope Alive run raised money for Child Find B.C.

Bobrovsky perfect as Blue Jackets blank Canucks 5-0

Vancouver shut out for 10th time this season

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says future assembly deliberations won’t be closed to public

Reversal comes after Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff raised concerns

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Most Read