Stuart ~ Gil Bennett died on November
29th, 2018, he was 80 years old. He would not have been surprised.
"I am not optimistic", he observed, when his doctors
prescribed the course of treatment for the medical issue befalling
Gil is survived by his wife Audrey and their three children, Martha (Rob), Anne (Michael) and Jim (Lorna); grandchildren Erin, Myka, William, Lee and Kellen; sister Linda Fransen; sister-in-law Barb; brother-in-law Gordon; many nieces, nephews and cousins, and one rather badly trained Golden Retriever, whom Gil was lukewarm on at the best of times.
At the age of 13, this intelligent, yet decidedly mischievous northern Ontario boy decided he wanted to be a lawyer. There were some moments when that end seemed in doubt. Once, he was briefly expelled from high school. At university, he was advised not to return to the University of Toronto’s Victoria College residence for being a bit of a prankster. Fortunately, he found like-minded companions at a fraternity, and together they spent an evening filling Toronto’s city hall fountain with laundry soap. Wooglin Forever.
Gil's sister recalls her brother having just graduated in 1962 from Osgoode Hall Law School and grinning ear to ear as he announced he'd won an award for being the top student from Northern Ontario. "Of course, I was the only student from Northern Ontario," Gil told his family with his usual self-deprecating humour.
After practicing commercial law in Toronto from 1964 to 1979, Gil held senior management positions with a number of top corporations, including serving as CEO of Lundrigan’s Comstock International, Canadair, Explosives Technologies International and Shieldings.
In the late 1980s, Gil was asked by the federal government of the day whether he had any interest in becoming head of Canada Post. He responded that he might consider the position if he could run the public institution like a business. After being told his common sense was perhaps too heavy a burden for Ottawa, Gil withdrew his candidacy.
Gil served as Chairman of the Board for Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd, FortisOntario Inc., Encal Energy Ltd., the Ontario Casino Corporation and Bracknell Corporation. He was a director on approximately 30 boards, including Discovery Air, Purolator Inc., The Consumers Gas Company, de Havilland Inc., Algoma Steel Inc., NAV CANADA, Air Nova Inc., Fortis Inc., Samuel Steel and Cablecasting Limited.
Early on, Gil judged that many corporate boards struggled with how directors could do their jobs properly. He saw it as his mission to help directors identify what their boards were legally and morally expected to do, and to make them more accountable in meeting their fiduciary obligations.
Gil also drafted board and committee job descriptions to explain better to directors exactly what their jobs were. He gradually found success in getting board job descriptions in place, including separate descriptions for board and committee chairs.
As his legacy, The Director's College, a corporate director education program from the Conference Board of Canada and the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, has handed out an annual Gil Bennett Gold Standard Award, presented to a graduate who, while coming near to the top of their class, also demonstrates dedication to raising the bar for professional standards in corporate governance.
Still, away from the boardroom, on squash and tennis courts, on golf courses or while fishing his favourite rivers in eastern Canada, Gil's friends and colleagues saw the bountiful generosity, kindness and sheer will that drove him forward. Of course, he could occasionally lose touch with his inner 'Tiger,' and launch a golf club or two into neighbouring forests.
Gil could always be counted on to be there and to give his best. He indelibly touched and influenced those around him, whether as a trusted and respected mentor, or just a friend.
But most of all, as a father, Gil embodied integrity, and the notions of being content with being your own person, that any task was to be done to the best of your ability and that people are the most important part of life. Gil seemed genuinely surprised that his children wanted to spend most of their vacations with him. Modesty was a hallmark. His family loved and adored him and will miss him greatly.
At Gil’s request there will be no service. Should you wish to make a donation in his name, The Atlantic Salmon Federation (asf.ca) or the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada (alzheimer.ca) would be potential options.
Arrangements entrusted to GILCHRIST CHAPEL – McIntyre & Wilkie Funeral Home, One Delhi Street, Guelph, (519-824-0031). We invite you to leave your memories and donations online at: www.gilchristchapel.com and they will be forwarded to the family.