James Carl Dow
January 13, 1936 - May 14, 2021
Obituary For James Carl Dow
After an extraordinary 85 year adventure filled with love and happiness, James Carl Dow passed away on Friday May 14, 2021 bequeathing family and friends with a rich legacy of fond memories and brighter smiles.
Carl, as he is known to all, was born in 1936 as the youngest of two boys to parents James Dow (1895-1963) and Madeleine Dow (1898-1997). Carl attended high school at St. Michael’s College in Toronto followed by post-secondary studies at Ryerson. During his youth, Carl’s numerous interests in athletic competition created the foundation for his lifelong love of ice hockey, horses, golf, skiing and tennis.
Carl’s hockey career was astonishingly prolific in tenure having played as a youth until shortly after his 84th birthday at which point, he scaled back his playing time to ‘only’ three days per week until the Covid pandemic closed ice rinks forcing him to retire his skates. Throughout his own hockey career, Carl remained a devoted Maple Leafs’ fan blindly optimistic that they would surely win the Stanley Cup each year. Carl also became an avid fan of the Carolina Hurricanes, the hometown team where his daughter Tara and her family have resided for the past 20 years.
In terms of competitive sport, Carl’s passion for hockey was perhaps only superseded by his love for horses. First introduced to equestrian sport through part-time work and competition at the Eglington Pony Club in his teens, Carl went on to work as a riding instructor/counselor at Taylor Statten Camps in Algonquin Park. Carl would later compete with the world’s best at the 1963 Olympic trials for a position on Canada’s 3-day-event team (show jumping, cross-country & dressage), for which he earned a reserve position. It was during this time that Carl forged an enduring bond with his favorite horse “Moonraker”, a bond that would grow during the many years of family fun thereafter as an active member and honorary secretary of the Toronto & North York Hunt Club. Carl also took great pride in his volunteer work with the ring committee of The Royal Winter Fair equestrian competition, often being the ringside voice of CFRB radio with nightly recaps of show jumping competition. A longtime enthusiast of Hollywood westerns and the rugged wilderness of the Rocky Mountains, Carl enjoyed his final horse ride in Montana just 3 years ago traversing stunning mountain trails with family members. And while his own riding career may have ended, he thrived until his final days seeing his daughter and 2 granddaughters share his passion for horses in their own pursuit of equestrian competitions.
Carl’s interest in golf came later in life but, like all of his endeavors, he pursued it with vigor, class and humility. Despite being left-handed with a swing more rooted in baseball mechanics, Carl amassed 3 hole-in-ones and enjoyed a lengthy 25+ year golf career with memberships at Aurora Highlands Golf & CC and The Summit Golf Club. Golf also provided an excellent excuse for numerous travel adventures throughout Canada, the US, Scotland and New Zealand playing many of the world’s most famous golf courses. Carl also eagerly pursued other athletic endeavors including skiing and tennis which provided many of their own excellent memories with amazing friend groups too numerous to mention.
Carl’s professional career began at age 22 with the Prudential Assurance Company of England as a life insurance agent. Armed with optimism, a tireless work ethic and warm demeanor, Carl was quickly recognized for his leadership potential and promoted at just age 29 to be the youngest branch manager tasked with opening the brand new Eglinton Toronto branch for Prudential Assurance. During his 43 years with Prudential Assurance and its subsequent namesakes (Mutual Group, Clarica and SunLife), Carl went on to attain numerous leadership awards and positions including: “Manager of the Year Award’, ‘President of Toronto Life Underwriters Association’, ‘Chairman of the Ontario Sales Congress’, and ‘Chairman of Ontario Manager’s Congress’, among others. Carl was equally active and generous with his time in volunteer leadership positions including: past President, Chairman & Director with the Canadian Cancer Society (Metro Toronto and Ontario division), past Director for Scarborough General Hospital Foundation Board, past Chairman of the Don Mills Foundation, and a former youth hockey coach with the Aurora Minor Hockey Association.
Of course, the most important aspect of Carl’s journey and the one that provided him with the most joy was the fact that he shared and co-authored much of it with his wife and soulmate of 57+ years, Joyce Anne Dow. Together, Carl and Joyce travelled the world and raised a family with two children and six grandchildren. City kids born and raised in Toronto, Carl and Joyce were married in 1964 then boldly chose to leave the big city behind to build a farm in Vandorf, Ontario in 1969 that they named “Whispering Pines”. It was at Whispering Pines on the outskirts of Aurora they raised Todd and Tara, instilling in them a strong work ethic, a passion for hockey and horses, and an appreciation of the importance of unconditional love and support in shaping a family. Carl and Joyce’s adventures together would later see them reside briefly in Oak Ridges and Aurora, then finally settling in the Ballantrae Golf & CC community of Stouffville, Ontario. Widely popular with too many close friends to mention, Carl and Joyce’s social calendar and travel schedule were often a challenge to navigate for those wanting to spend precious time with them. When not visiting their daughter’s family in Raleigh, North Carolina or their son’s family in San Francisco, California, they could often be found cruising the world exploring new places and meeting new people. Favored repeat destinations over the years with family and friends have included Longboat Key, Florida for US Thanksgiving and Maui, Hawaii for Christmas.
Carl’s generosity, warmth and adventurous nature lives on in the memories of all who knew him and in the hearts of his very grateful family members. Carl is survived by his wife Joyce (née Sanderson), their daughter Tara Dow-Rein, Tara’s husband Mark Rein and their 3 children, Carly (18), Cassidy (17) & Carson (17), as well as Carl & Joyce’s son Todd Dow, Todd’s wife Christine and their 3 children, Samantha (22), Casey (19) and Davis (17). Over the years, Carl was known for his positive disposition and his embrace of the parting phrase, “keep smiling!” Few things in life made him smile more than spending time with his grandchildren as their “Poppa” and passing along his mostly true stories and infectious positivity --- watching his grandkids riding horses, playing hockey or hitting golf/tennis balls gave him profound joy. To honor his legacy, he would want us all to pursue our own journeys with kindness and generosity in our hearts and, importantly, to “keep smiling” --- bringing a smile to others just as he did. Thank you for giving us so much to smile about Carl --- you were an extraordinary son, husband, father, grandfather, and friend.
Per Carl’s wishes and his family, no funeral or celebration-of-life event will be held. In lieu of flowers or gifts, please instead consider donations to the Canadian Cancer Society.
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