15 NOV 2010: His family, friends, peers were all there. Former employees and old rivals - all fellow travellers in this wonderfully addictive industry that he loved, lived and played such a huge role in shaping. We gathered Saturday afternoon to say a final “Bon Voyage” to Dennis Gill. And to remember, with a smile, a man to whom integrity and decency were a way of life, not words on a mission statement.
Dennis Gill had not wanted any memorial services. His family fortunately, and generously, overrode his wishes and held a “reception” to allow his “other” family to say goodbye.
It really was a travel event– as his son Simon pointed out. The guests were an assortment of the past, present and perhaps even the future, travel industry. We mixed and mingled and recounted stories. There were faces you hadn’t seen in years and those you saw last week.
Son Neil gave a touching tribute to his father, and son Simon, an amusing one.
Eric Calladine read a letter from his father, Jim Calladine, Dennis’ first boss in Canada, and the man responsible for persuading him to venture across the Atlantic to seek his future here. “We bullshit each other” wrote Calladine of their first meeting, but they also convinced each other, and Gill did come to Canada – Beryl making the crossing by sea with five small children, and Dennis flying.
Neil Gill claimed the reasoning for that curious decision was never properly explained despite his questions over the years.
A moving tribute from Len Nathan, Dennis’ friend and business partner of many years, was poignant and heartfelt, and engendered more than a few tears. Coupled with a reading of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ they made a fitting tribute to a man who both cherished that poem and epitomized its ideals.
Dennis Gill was a man of wisdom, strength and character.
The poem he loved, pretty well sums it all up.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!
- Rudyard Kipling
Image: Dennis Gill superimposed over the former Sunflight building on Don Mills Road, Toronto.
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