Gerry died at the Lakeshore General Hospital on Thursday, May 7, 2020, but gave no indication during the day Tuesday that he would need to be taken by ambulance that night. He was the beloved husband of Jann (Robinson), who was deeply saddened not to be permitted to go with him due to the Covid restrictions. A very kind nurse held his hand and passed on Jann’s love and goodbyes in her stead, and he slipped away shortly after 1 a.m.
He was the brother of Rosemary (Gord Best) of Toronto, brother-in-law of Dale Robinson (Linda), father of Jeremy who predeceased him and Graeme (Julie Brown). Stepfather of Alison Campbell (Warren Stricker) and Sombra (Stuart Wilson) and uncle of John Mitchele and Richard Mitchele, uncle by marriage of James Lee Robinson (Michelle) and Michael ‘Basil Moon’ Robinson.
Also left to mourn, grandsons Darren (Erin, and their 5 children), and Trevor Clarke who are sons of Candice Clarke, grandchildren by marriage Trent Wilson (Natali and their 4 children), Myles Wilson (Emily and their 2 daughters), Rourke Wilson (Savanaha and their daughter), Janney Wilson, Asher Wilson, Elias Wilson and Ronen Wilson.
He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, colleague and friend. Gerry is also survived by his former wives Karina Gerlach, Graeme’s mother, and Penny Stewart.
Gerry taught at John Abbott College in the department of Humanities/Philosophy/Religion from 1971-2005. He played many roles: he was usually a co-chair, a founder of the Liberal Arts program, and always the anchor of the department. He was loved and respected by generations of students and colleagues. Gerry worked for many years in architecture in St. John, NB but his heart wasn’t in it. He realized that what would fulfill him was to become a teacher and so, still in architecture, he transferred to Montreal in order to study philosophy and mathematics at Sir George Williams (Concordia). When the Province of Quebec was looking for teachers in their new CEGEP system he took the opportunity to join John Abbott College. He lived with gusto and boundless curiosity. His courses ranged widely, from the history of Philosophy, to Math and Logic for Liberal Arts students, and Oriental Philosophy. He loved teaching and John Abbott, Kant, Siamese cats, Go, Zen Buddhism, jazz, playing the saxophone and then Baroque recorder, computers and electronics, travel, TV, and hanging out. He loved cars and motorcycles, devoting his twenties and early thirties to car rallies and motorcycle racing.
He was born in northern Alberta and raised in Winnipeg by parents Clement LaValley and Frances (Trueman). As well as being kind and honorable, he was a giant of a man. All who knew him were graced by the privilege.
Special thanks go out to the doctors, nurses and pharmacists who provided so much care in his final years. To honour Gerry’s life, donations to the Lakeshore Hospital Foundation (Pointe-Claire, QC) would be appreciated by family.
Arrangements entrusted to Voluntas (voluntas.ca | (514) 695-7979).
Birgitte RumpMay 21, 2020 at 6:31 pm
Dear Jann. You expressed it all so clearly in your words about Gerry and he helped make this world a better place.
Thomas S GrahamMay 21, 2020 at 7:08 pm
I knew Gerry in the ierly 1960″s and prevailed upon him ti be the best man at our wedding in 1964. Gerry and I competed as a team in many car rallies in the New brunswick area and even aan event in Maine, which we won. We were both pretty compeytitive and thus had considerable success in this endeavour. Gerry on one occasion mentioned the desire to be a teacher but hadn’t yet put that plan into action. I was surprised at how strongly he fell about this and what followed in his life is proof of that. All that is left for me to say is a resounding, well dong Ger.
David Delcloo, Kingston, ONMay 26, 2020 at 8:45 am
I was introduced to Gerry thru the NBSCC ( New Brunswick Sporting Car Club) in the early 60’s and spent time with him and his Siamese cats in Rothesay, We didn’t rally together but competed in shoppiing centre parking lots, Gerry in the TR3 and I in an Anglia ( no contest the TR won). We renewed acquaintances in Montreal in 1968 as I parked my car daily outside his apartment in Ville St Laurent, spendingone night at his place as a result of freak snowstorm in October. Shortly thereafter his career took him to the West Island and our paths diverged. I was in contact several years ago when he told me of his illness. Gerry was character who loved life and life loved him. He will always have a place in my heart because of Siamese Cats, he had them and I had them. My sympathies to his family.
Jann LaValleyJune 2, 2020 at 3:33 pm
Thank you very much for writing about how your life and Gerry’s touched from time to time. It means a lot to me. Best regards, Jann
Dale RobinsonJune 3, 2020 at 11:41 am
Love you Jann, one day at a time, the sun comes up everyday whether we see it or not, as your love of Gerry will always be there. Big Hug, Linda & Fale
Paul DiasJune 9, 2020 at 1:19 am
I had the pleasure of being one of Gerry’s students. I was entertained by his stories and fascinated by the depth of his knowledge. I would walk out of his class with my mind swimming with ideas – about philosophy, math, logic and Zen. Though he was, without a doubt, one of the most brilliant, well-read people I have ever met, he was never smug or pretentious. He genuinely cared about his students and his infectious enthusiasm and love of ideas made me (and many others) fall in love with them as well. Though it’s been over 20 years since I was at John Abbott, he still towers in my memory – white jacket, a loud Hawaiian shirt, hand gripped around a cigarette, a giant beaming smile that was both youthful and brimming with wise profundity. I won’t soon forget him.
My sincere condolences to his family.
Patrick BrennanJune 10, 2020 at 11:40 am
Reading about Gerry LaValley’s passing brought up a swell of memories. I had the pleasure of taking his Principles of Logic and Mathematics course 17 years ago. It remains the most interesting course I have ever taken. I still have the coursebook and I will never part with it. In my final semester at John Abbott College, Gerry graciously invited me to teach his class. On an autumnal Friday morning, I taught a one and half hour class to a group of students just a year younger than me. Gerry sat at the back of the class with a smile on his face and a notebook in hand. After class, he sat down with me and held a debrief, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of my teaching performance that day. I ended up working in the field of teaching and education largely due to the opportunity Gerry gave me on that Friday morning. I am thankful to have had Gerry as an educator and mentor.
My sincere condolences to Jann and to all of Gerry’s family.
Kenneth McFarlaneAugust 14, 2022 at 2:53 pm
He was a giant of a man, so true, one of the most influential people in my life…so long Herb.