Gary Gene Judson, age 85, of Emo, Ontario, passed away in the early morning hours of October 16, 2023, at La Verendrye Hospital in Fort Frances, Ontario. He spent his final day there in comfort, close to home, with his family by his side, after receiving medical treatment out-of-town for the past several months. He was supported by his family along this difficult journey.

Gary was born in Emo, Ontario, on September 24, 1938, to Laurie and Dorothy (nee Mason) Judson. He lived his entire life in the Rainy River District, primarily in Emo, but also in Atikokan and Nestor Falls. He attended school in Kingsford and went to high school until Grade 9, when he left to work. Gary was united in marriage to his wife, Janet (nee Orme), on October 23, 1958. Soon after, they welcomed their sons Morris and Trevor.

Gary changed occupations several times over the years, always finding a new way to put to work his skill and talent as a mechanic and equipment operator – and his legendary sense of humour. He was employed in the Steep Rock iron mine in Atikokan for a time, and later for public works in Nestor Falls. He ran a cement business in Emo and operated his own auto shop and car repair business for many years. He even owned the Barwick restaurant for awhile (after realizing there was nowhere close to his garage to go for coffee). Gary retired from the Barwick mill at age 65 but continued to operate his used car and engine repair business up to this past year.

Gary spent much of his life in service of the community, especially in Emo and Barwick, which he loved dearly (though Crow Lake was his favourite spot). He once got up to the microphone at a conference in Toronto and told everyone that the quality of life was so good up where he’s from that they were going to have to shoot a guy just to get a graveyard started.

Gary was one of the longest-serving municipal councillors in Emo and, as recently as 2018, he ran to serve as reeve of Chapple. Gary saw politics as a force for good in the community, and spent many years involved with the local PC Party riding association. He has also served as president of the Rainy River Valley Agricultural Society, and both he and Jan volunteered for many years to make the Emo Fair (and some of its fair queen contestants) successful. He served on many boards over the years. Gary was always generous with his time, and since overcoming his own struggles with alcohol many years ago, he counselled countless people in the district as part of the local AA community.

Gary will be fondly remembered by many people in the Rainy River District for always having a new joke, a dog at his side (Fred was a long-time faithful companion), and a shirt pocket full of handy tools. “Grandpa GG” was a fixture in district parades, regularly entering numerous antique cars, trucks, tractors, and other vintage treasures (several of his grandkids have been given a crash course on driving a tractor that has broken down in the middle of a parade route).

Gary is survived by his wife Janet Judson; his sons Morris (Cindy) Judson and Trevor (Jane) Judson; six grandchildren Emma (Corrie) Govier, Douglas (Peter) Judson, Maverick (Crystal) Judson, Luke (Tara) Judson, Janissa Judson, and Jeffrey Judson; four great-grandchildren Evan (Cass) Govier, Keira Govier, Dillon Govier and Jett Judson; his sisters Dianne Strachan and Kathy Judson; his brother-in-law Arthur Orme; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

Gary was predeceased by his parents Laurie and Dorothy Judson; his brothers-in-law Larry Strachan, Cleland Lundy, Frank Izzard and Thomas Fraser; and his sisters-in-law Patricia Lundy, Mavis Izzard, and Anneke Orme.

Because none of the local coffee shops have enough seating for all of his friends, a funeral service will take place on Monday, October 23, 2023, at 10:00 a.m., at the Christian Reformed Church in Emo, Ontario, with Rev. Ralph Fluit officiating. Interment at the Emo Cemetery and a luncheon will follow.

Gary’s honorary pallbearers will be Luke Judson, Maverick Judson, Jeffrey Judson, Travis Strachan, Jim Strachan, Glen Strachan, Ed Tetu, Roger Lougheed, George Oltsher, Joe Judson, Doug Kitowski, and Bill McLean.

In lieu of flowers, in memoriam donations can be directed to the Emo Knox United Church, P.O. Box 186, Emo, Ontario, P0W 1E0 (please specify in the memo line that funds are to support local AA), or to the charity of your choice.