While we mainly remember his knowledge of and activity in the hvacr industry, “Duff” also told many stories of his early career as a reporter for a daily newspaper in his native Halifax, NS, Canada. He brought his reporter’s intelligence, wit, and tenacity to The News on October 31, 1966.
He stayed with Business News Publishing Co. (BNP) 27 years, receiving a Lifetime Commitment Award in 1993. He was respected throughout the hvacr industry for the depth of his knowledge.
He was a strong advocate for editors learning as much as possible about the technical nature of this industry, and insisted that many of us attend and report on ASHRAE technical meetings as well the products at the AHR Expo. And he never let us forget about his early introduction to heating systems: shoveling coal on bitterly cold mornings into a coal-fired furnace, which heated the house where he met his wife, Therese.
“What I most remember about Gordon Duffy,” says refrigeration editor Peter Powell, “was that he knew a lot about a lot of different things in hvacr. When I first met him, I was impressed by how much he knew. A lot of what he said went over my novice head. Even in later years, when I saw him from time to time at ASHRAE-ARI expos, I could talk technical with him a lot better, but he was still quantum leaps ahead of me in understanding this industry.
“Gordon was also a communicator,” Powell said. “At press briefings he asked the right questions and the intelligent ones. In writing stories, he took his time and explained things clearly and completely.
“Most writers and editors with The News come from outside the industry. Two ways to learn the industry is to read as much as you can and attend as many conferences as you can. But the best way to learn was to listen to Gordon Duffy,” Powell concluded. “Sadly, that option is no longer available.”
A Story Teller“Gordon was one to speak his mind — especially back in 1980,” recalled David Lurie, BNP director — Industrial Division. “He wrote an editorial about some union activities.…Gordon was a bit disconcerted one day and being his next-door neighbor in the office, I asked him why. He said that he had been threatened to stop or else, and mentioned that I may want to switch offices just in case he was ‘blown up.’
“Gordon was very proud of his Canadian heritage,” Lurie added. “He often spent time reminiscing about his days as a reporter and telling stories about the people he had met and places he had been.
“While covering a story for his paper, he was invited to take a ride in the cockpit of a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) fighter jet and never bored of telling me what a ride it was.”
Gordon Duffy’s capacity for storytelling was legend among his family, friends, and associates. Even when he was late to work, he had a good story to tell. According to Kathleen Peacock, News production assistant, “His excuse was, ‘The train was blocking my driveway.’ Sure it was, we thought; but he explained that a track ran across his property and several of his neighbors’. They were on a lake so there was no way to go around.
“Gordon said one time he disconnected two cars, pushed them apart, and drove through,” said Peacock. “The cars were being left there while the rest of the train went on. He had an ongoing relationship with the railroad company.”
Personally, I shall always smile when I remember him sticking his head in my office and calling out, “Longer hours, shorter vacation, less pay!”
Gordon Duffy is survived by his wife, Therese F. Duffy; sons John R. (Virginia) and Michael P. (Cynthia) Duffy; daughter Elizabeth A. (Thomas) Garlick; and grandchildren Megan Duffy, Colleen Duffy, James Garlick, Sean Garlick, Shannon Garlick, Courtney Duffy, and Jacob Duffy.
The family said that memorials may be made to the American Heart Association, National Center, 7272 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX 75231; www.american heart.org (website).
Publication date: 09/03/2001