TheStar.com | AtoG | Doug Ford, 73: Athlete, business leader, MPP
Doug Ford, 73: Athlete, business leader, MPP
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Oct 19, 2006 05:26 AM

staff reporter
Doug Ford, the rags-to-riches entrepreneur and member for Etobicoke-Humber in the first Mike Harris government, has died of colon cancer at 73.

Mr. Ford was elected to the Ontario legislature in 1995 and served one term, until 1999, as a backbencher and member of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs.

He grew up "rough and tumble on the Danforth," in the words of his son Rob Ford, a sitting Toronto councillor.

"He was a baby out of 10 kids," Rob said yesterday. "He never had a father, just a mother. He never met his father."

With little money in the large family, the senior Mr. Ford left school after Grade 3 and for a time continued to struggle, even as an adult.

"Until the business took off, we were poor," his son said.

Doug Ford was also an avid athlete. He played guard for the East York Argos, and, in 1954, he attempted unsuccessfully to swim Lake Ontario alongside Marilyn Bell, who famously completed the first crossing.


"He listened to everyone's perspective and their different view"

Rob Ford, city councillor


"He never got across but he sure made a good attempt," Rob Ford said.

In 1962, he founded a company now known as Deco Labels and Tags, developing the firm into a multi-million-dollar concern with more than 100 employees and manufacturing facilities in Toronto and Chicago.

In 1995, during his election campaign, he said he had "run a company for 34 years, and we don't owe a cent and have never taken a dime in government grants.

"I believe my expertise can be useful to remedy (the province's) financial situation," he said.

Mr. Ford was an active member of the Rotary Club for 38 years. He was a long-time board member of the Etobicoke General Hospital and once raised $1.5 million for the hospital's first CT scan machine.

He also volunteered for the Salvation Army Red Shield Campaign and Big Brothers.

"As a father, he was my best friend," said his city councillor son. "He taught me the value of a dollar. ... He listened to everyone's perspective and their different views."

Mr. Ford was diagnosed on July 1, Canada Day, and died Friday, Sept. 22, with his family at his side. He leaves his wife, Diane, daughter, Kathy, and sons, Randy, Doug Jr. and Rob, three daughters-in-law and eight grandchildren.

Visitation is tomorrow and Thursday at Newediuk Funeral Home, 2104 Kipling Ave., between 2 and 4, and 6 and 9 p.m. A funeral service is to be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the Westway United Church, 8 Templar Dr.
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