O.C., RICHARD JERMY 1934 - 2020 Passed away August 15, 2020 in Toronto after
stoically enduring a long siege with Alzheimer's.
Lovingly remembered by his wife, Carol Bishop
Gwyn. Predeceased by his parents Philip Jermy Gwyn and Elizabeth (Betty)
(nee Tilley) and his wife of 42 years, Sandra Gwyn (nee Fraser). Survived by
his sister, Susannah (Sue) Rooney and his five nephews John, Julian, Ben
(Jenny), Toby (Grainne) and Daniel (Dtang) along with ten great-nieces and
nephews including his goddaughter India Rooney, sister-in-law Danielle
Fraser (Nick), brother-in-law A.R. (Rory) Harley (Jane) and step-son Joshua
McIvor (Frances) and grandchildren Penelope and Edward. Also survived by
countless Gwyn cousins including Julian, Hugh, Rosemary and Mary-Caroline.
Born into a military family at Bury St. Edmunds,
Suffolk on May 26, 1934, Richard spent his early childhood living in
Shanghai and India. He attended the Jesuit Stonyhurst College in Lancaster,
England followed by Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Seeking adventure
Richard teamed up with a school-chum to visit Canada in the early 1950s and
worked in a variety of jobs, perhaps most notably a spell in Newfoundland as
door-to-door salesmen, selling a Catholic magazine. Both Richard and his
friend met girls working at the Halifax information bureau and both went on
to marry their Canadian sweethearts.
Richard and Alexandra (Sandra) Fraser wed in
1958, enjoyed 42 years together and a creative literary partnership. Once
attached firmly to Canada, Richard launched a journalism career.
For the period 1968 to
1973, he was Executive Assistant to the federal Communications Minister the
Hon. Eric Kierans and later a Director-General in that department.
Returning to his true calling, he rose to the top of journalism. In
1973 he was assigned to The Toronto Star Ottawa's National Press Gallery and
from 1985 to 1992 posted to London, England as The Star's foreign
correspondent. Beyond his success in newspapers, Richard was widely
recognized as a political commentator on radio and tv and had seven books
published including biographies of Newfoundland Premier Joey Smallwood, the
Unlikely Revolutionary and Pierre Elliott Trudeau, The Northern Magus. His
study of post-modern Canada Nationalism Without Walls: The Unbearable
Lightness of Being Canadian was cited by the Literary Review of Canada as
one of the country's 100 most-important books.
Richard dedicated his early retirement years to
writing an award-winning two-volume biography of Sir John A Macdonald of
whose track record he approved; he'd have taken exception to recent negative
judgements about Canada's first prime minister. A thoroughly old-fashioned
English man with a dry, witty sense of humour, Richard enjoyed the company
of his good friends and family and was generous in encouraging and mentoring
young people. It tickled him to note that although he never attended
university, he held five honourary degrees. From 2002 to 2007 Richard was
Chancellor of St. Jerome University, Waterloo. Having owned a salt-box house
in Eastport, Newfoundland since 1974, Richard built a large community of
dear friends there. In particular, NL's literary community appreciates his
founding of The Winterset Award, an annual literary prize in honour of his
Newfoundland-born wife, Sandra as well as the co-founding of Eastport's
annual Winterset in Summer Literary Festival. Cremation followed by a
private service has been held. A celebration of life will be held at a later
date. Donations in memory of Richard requested for L'Arche Canada Foundation
or Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council.