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October 23, 2002

Former Mitchell area man’s generosity praised

From: Mitchell Advocate, Canada
Oct. 23, 2002

By Holly Jones

The London branch of the Canadian Hearing Society has a new home, thanks to the generous bequest of a Mitchell-area man.

Gordon Reed, who died on Nov. 2, 1998 at the age of 81 following a lengthy battle with stomach cancer, only had a Grade 2 education. A case of scarlet fever at an early age left him deaf and prevented him from continuing his studies.
“Gordon obviously would have done well in school had he had his hearing to help him,” said Kim Paulton, a hearing counselor who helped Reed at the London branch.
She speculated that had Reed’s deafness been diagnosed today he would have been fitted with a special device that would have allowed him to hear more and he also would have been taught sign language, and been able to continue in school.
However, as it was, hearing aids only helped Reed in hearing atmospheric sounds, and not actual language.
“He was a fellow with a serious hearing disability who never married, and lived on the farm where he was born,” said long-time friend and executor of his estate, Clarence McDougall.
However, despite his deafness he managed well for himself.
Over the course of his 82 years, he managed to save up nearly a million dollars, donating one third of it to the Canadian Hearing Society’s London Branch, one third to the Salvation Army, and one third to the London Health Sciences Centre upon his death.
In addition to the farm where he grew up, two-kilometres east of Dublin and five-kilometres west of Mitchell, he bought a couple more properties, one north and one east of Mitchell, according to McDougall.
For a number of years he also worked in the feed mill of the former Mitchell & District Co-operative.
Saving money was always a bit of a hobby for Reed.
“The fellows he worked with used to say as soon as the subject of money came up he could hear every word,” laughs McDougall.
At the same time, he stresses that despite Reed’s interest in matters pertaining to money, he was never miserable about it, he simply took an interest in spending wisely and being a good businessman.
Bill Butler was lead hand for a couple of years while Reed was working at the feed mill in the 1970’s.
He described Reed as a good worker who enjoyed talking with the customers, which he did using the little hearing that he had along with lip-reading.
“Whether it was politics or money, he was there,” said Butler. “He knew almost everybody that came in.”
He speculates that Reed, who never missed a day of work, came to work more for the enjoyment of seeing others than for the money.
“He didn’t like being alone,” said Butler, “he wanted to get out and meet the public.”
In addition to working at the feed mill and taking an interest in money matters, he enjoyed working on his land and farming.
But when farming became too much for him he moved to a small apartment in Stratford.
Never one to throw money around, Reed lived simply, owning no more than the bare essentials.
His apartment was furnished with a bed, a television, a chair, and a small table.
“He never wanted anything,” said McDougall, “and he was never a burden to anybody.”
Watching hockey on television was a major pastime for Reed, and a closed-captioning decoder provided by the Canadian Hearing Society made this activity even more enjoyable, so that he could hear some of the commentary.
To get around he used his faithful pickup truck, which he maintained for several years.
Talking on the phone was always a particular challenge for Reed, who made use of a TTY system, which allowed him to type the words into a phone with a small screen and read the response from the other end of the line. Communication was slow, as he often had to pause to look up words in his dictionary, which he kept by the phone. A new innovation, called Voice Carry Over, made phone conversations easier for him, as he no longer had to type.
Towards the end of his life he moved back to Mitchell, where he lived in a senior’s complex in the north end of town.
He knew that he was dying, and though he never spoke of his bequests to McDougall, he planned it very carefully with the London Branch of the Canadian Hearing Society, meeting with the regional director, Marilyn Reid to discuss the details.
A small party in his honour was held before his death, celebrating his bequest, where he was presented with a plaque, which he proudly displayed in his home.
“It was really neat that we had the opportunity to say thank-you to him before he died,” said Paulton.
Marilyn Reid was thrilled about the donation.
“We were very excited about it,” she said, “it allowed us to move into a new building and offer services that we would not have otherwise been able to.”

@2002 The Mitchell Advocate