Obituary of The Honourable Gordon Patrick Killeen, Q.C
The Honourable Gordon Patrick Killeen, Q.C.
July 14, 1932 – October 12, 2023
It is with profound sadness that we announce Gord passed away peacefully in London on October 12in his home of 50 years. He died from natural causes in his 92nd year after several months of declining health.
Gord was predeceased in 2020 by his loving wife Martha. He is survived by his adored daughter, Pam of London, and five sons Bill (Therese) of Oakville, Mark of London, Mike (Caroline) of Toronto, Greg (Donna) of Bloomfield, MI and John of Etobicoke. Cherished Granddad of Ryan (Dana), Taylor, Marti (Nick), Declan, Evan, Tim, Megan, Matthew, Brendan, Ana, Madeline, Nolan and Simon. He always followed the various paths of his 13 grandchildren with great interest and pride, as was obvious by the many family photos scattered throughout his home.
A talented trial lawyer and, for over three decades, an Ontario Superior Court Judge, Gord, affectionately known as “Lord Gord”, led a life that was dedicated to the rule of law and a passion for justice.
A longtime member of Sunningdale Golf & Country Club and the London Squash Club, he maintained a lifelong interest in sports.
Born in Ottawa on July 14, 1932 to Gordon James Killeen and Mary (Masterson), he lived on Laurier Avenue and grew up recalling many happy memories of his childhood and his education.
Gord attended St. Patrick’s Lyceum in grade school, St. Patrick’s College High School, and the University of Ottawa, graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Economics and the Governor General’s Medal for Academic Excellence. He then attended Carleton University on a scholarship for post-graduate work in Public Administration. As a young academic, he was fascinated with and influenced by the literary works of James Joyce and Shakespeare, and taught Shakespeare classes at the University of Ottawa when he was only 20. In 1959, Gord graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School. After articling at Ness and Ness in Toronto, he was called to the Ontario Bar in June 1959. Shortly thereafter, he joined a law practice in Ottawa in 1960 with, and then became a partner in, Soloway, Wright & Houston specializing in civil and criminal litigation. He felt privileged to practice with leading members of the Ottawa Bar, several of whom went on to serve with distinction in the Ontario judiciary. As a practicing barrister for over 13 years, Gord was a passionate advocate on behalf of his clients and he developed a reputation as a formidable foe, whose anticipated presence in the courtroom led to many settlements. In 1972, Gord was appointed Queen’s Counsel. In August 1973, he was appointed by the Governor-in-Council of Canada to the County Court of Ontario, now called the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, and moved his young family of six children to London. He served proudly on the Bench for a prodigious 34 years, until 2007, presiding over cases of significant public concern.
With a booming voice and a commanding use of the English language, he was known as a firm, empathetic and thorough jurist. Gord has over 400 electronically published decisions available on Westlaw and Lexis, covering a diverse and novel range of legal and moral issues. His 1978 decision in Interprovincial Pipe Line v. Lewington, upheld by the Divisional Court, formulated precedent-setting and creative parameters for compensation awards in cases of improper expropriation of land.His Indigenous land claim ruling in 1995 was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. He was particularly proud when his landmark family law judgments dealing with spousal support and property equalization, such as Linton v. Linton, were cited or relied upon by the highest courts in Canada. During his tenure as a judge, he was also a dedicated teacher and mentor to young lawyers and his judicial colleagues all of whom admired him for his intellect, integrity, work ethic and rapier wit. One London lawyer and dear friend once commented “any time you’re in his court, you came out a better lawyer than you were when you went in.” An active member of the Canadian Bar Association, Advocates Society of Ontario, Criminal Lawyers’ Association of Ontario, the Ontario Civil Rules Committee and the Ontario Superior Court Judges Association, Gord was committed to the intellectual and academic life of his legal community and lectured frequently at legal and judicial conferences on many subjects including criminal law, evidence, civil procedure and construction law. He was a staunch advocate for the rules of civil procedure and co-authored several related books and papers, including “The Conduct of a Civil Trial”, “A Guide to Costs”, “Annotated Canada Pension Plan” and “Superior Court Practice”.
In 1974, he took on the added role of Chairman of the Police Commission for the City of London, until 1982. Starting in 1999, he also sat on the Pension Appeals Board, Canada Pension Plan for many years. With hearings across the Provinces, Gord relished the work and camaraderie with fellow judges. He would address the board members each year with an annual paper on recent precedents from the higher courts.
Upon retirement from the bench in 2007 at the (much to his chagrin) mandatory age of 75, Gord kept himself busy, with Martha’s assistance, running his own mediation and arbitration practice, for an additional ten years, while also presiding in Small Claims Court. At his retirement ceremony, the Superior Court of Justice’s law library was renamed The Gordon Killeen Judicial Library as a tribute to his extensive contributions.
Gord was a voracious reader, a lifelong learner and a prolific storyteller. His children, grandchildren and friends will miss his quick wit and his encyclopedic knowledge of numerous topics including world wars, sports, politics, historical and current events, the law, theatre, and black and white movies, in all of which he took immense interest.
Gord and his family are profoundly grateful for the wonderful medical care arranged for him by the staff of Medical Priorities.
Friends may pay their respects at John T. Donohue Funeral Home, 362 Waterloo Street, London on Monday, October 16 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be held at St. John the Divine Catholic Church, 390 Baseline Road West, London on Tuesday, October 17 at 1:30 p.m. A private burial will take place at Woodland Cemetery in London at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made in Gord’s memory to the charity of your choice. Condolences may be forwarded through www.donohuefuneralhome.ca.
Donohue Funeral Home has been serving all faiths and cultures for over 80 years. We offer services personalized to the family’s needs. Be it a traditional funeral or alternative service, we will fulfill the wishes of the family.