It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Gordon Alvin Gessell on 16 May 2020 at the age of 85 in the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton. He leaves behind his wife of nearly 60 years Mary Edna (née Sawyer), sons Douglas (Nina) and Blair (Christine), grandchildren Tristan, Carmen and Carter, his brother Barry, and numerous nieces, nephews, friends and former colleagues.
Gordon was born 7 December 1934 in a farmhouse near Wapella, Saskatchewan, the second child of William and Elfrida Gessell. Among the six siblings he took the most after his mother, who was an Ikert. Besides his parents, he was predeceased by his brothers Melvin, Aldon and Brian and by his sister Violet.
Gordon believed strongly in the value of education and was the first in the family to complete high school. After a brief stint training to be an accountant in Winnipeg, he found employment in 1955 with Imperial Oil in Alida, Saskatchewan. He advanced rapidly within the company, moving frequently to take roles with increased responsibility: in Saskatchewan, from Alida to Smiley to Frobisher to Lampman to Kindersley back to Lampman; and in Alberta, first to Devon and finally to Redwater, where he was Area Superintendent and oversaw the entirety of Imperial’s Redwater operations. Early in his career he obtained an Engineering Certificate by correspondence. He was proud to be able to say that he had engineers with university degrees reporting to him.
Gordon retired at 48 for medical reasons: he was diagnosed at 47 with hydroencephalopathy, and one of the operations undertaken to remedy it left him with brain damage that interfered with his ability to learn. He settled in Devon with Edna in 1984, where they resided until 2017 before moving to assisted living in St Albert to be closer to Blair.
His was a long retirement, made much easier by the generosity of Imperial Oil’s medical and retirement benefits. He was immensely and ever grateful to the company for the opportunities and support it had provided for him. In the early years of retirement he and Edna curled in winter and golfed in summer. Through his 50s, Gordon added a few more golfing and curling trophies to the couple of dozen he had amassed prior to retirement. Eventually they split their time between summers in Devon and winters in the retirement town of Green Valley, Arizona, which meant they could just about be year-round golfers.
When he was not keeping active, Gordon stayed abreast of current affairs (he subscribed to several magazines), indulged his passion for crossword puzzles and kept the house in top condition. A terrific handyman, when called upon he made material improvements to the houses of both his sons. Douglas lives in London, England; some of Gordon’s work remains in place there still.
In accordance with Gordon’s wishes, there will be no funeral. A private Celebration of Life and the burial of Gordon’s ashes will be held when circumstances allow. Photos, memories and condolences may be shared through www.serenity.ca.