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Old 07-15-2017, 09:17 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,602
Default Gordon sings HAPPY BIRTHDAY for 100 yr.old in Orillia.

How about Gordon singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY for you??

Orillia's James Wood is a man of many passions

Quality is key, but more so, a passion

James Wood is a man of many passions: singing in barbershop quartets, selling high-calibre shoes and clothing, and driving antique cars are but a few of his life-long interests. And they all have one thing in common according to his way of thinking: quality.

“You can’t go wrong with quality,” he admitted to me during a visit to his home in Orillia. “No one will ever regret quality.”

Born on December 28, 1916, Jim Wood is a centenarian. He’s seen man go from traveling by horse and buggy to landing by spaceship on the moon. He’s lived through two world wars and “two marriages,” he said with pride, “the second one only last summer!”

Imagine: marrying at the age of 99! After his first wife, Bunny, passed away, Jim waited many years until he met and married his second wife, Marie.

It was last year, too, that Gordon Lightfoot sang at Jim’s 100th birthday. When Jim was in his 40s, he joined a barbershop quartet in Toronto. Ten years later he and his wife and two sons moved to Orillia where he continued with his singing and started a choir of four teenage boys who were very interested in learning how to sing. One of these boys was Gordon Lightfoot, who obviously not only had an interest in singing, but a talent of high quality. While being coached by Jim, Gordon jokingly remarked that if Jim made it to 100 years of age, and Gordon was still around, he would sing at Jim’s birthday. That promise came true last year!

Not only did Jim teach the four boys singing, he instilled in them the importance of stage presence. Because he knew the janitor of the Orillia Opera House at the time, he got the boys to practice before a performance. He’d have them stand on stage imagining the faces in the audience.

“You guys own this place,” Jim would shout. “See the smiles on their faces!” And the boys would sing their hearts out.

“Each time they stole the show --- blew it to pieces,” Jim remembers.

This interest in the “rag trade” as Jim calls it, took him on many musical adventures in quartets and choirs: from Toronto to Orillia, Midland, Collingwood, Barrie and Shanty Bay. He especially loved singing in tabernacles where he would “roar his head off” with the other members of his traveling troop, ages 7 – 93. When I asked him what his favourite song of all time was, he said, “Sparkle and Shine is the best, when I truly feel it in my guts.”

This passion for singing taught him the importance of quality performance not just on stage with an audience, but in his business as a career salesman. Jim Wood sold high quality shoes and clothing for over 30 years, which led to a life-long interest in being sharply dressed.
“I have to dress well, I have to. I like quality,” he confessed as he touched his lovely grey woolen vest.

His career in clothing and shoe sales began by dressing windows for retail stores in Toronto then Simcoe County; which eventually led him to open his own store, Thomas Woods Shoes Ltd, on Mississauga Street in Orillia.

“Back then there were no malls to compete with. Business was great! I used to drive my Volkswagen van to Brown Shoe Factory Outlet in Perth every weekend and come home with a carload of high quality shoes.”

Besides singing and selling shoes and clothing, another passion of Jim’s is antique cars. Jim is a long-time member of HASC (Historical Automobile Society of Canada) as well as an Honorary member of the Pre-war Car Registry in the Maritimes. After the war he was one of the first to purchase a brand new 1948 Morris Oxford. He once owned a 1926 Chevy, a light green 1954 Chevy 210 Sedan, and more recently, a 1990 Firefly.

No matter what his passion, James Wood is a man who loves quality and has lived over a century to tell his tale.
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