It’s hard to feel regretful when someone dies at the age of 90, having enjoyed a happy marriage, warm friendships, and the admiration of three wonderful sons and 21 grandchildren.
But I’m still sad that Marvin Shore has left this world. He’d been my father Larry’s best buddy since they met as fraternity-house roommates 64 years ago at what was then called the University of Western Ontario, in London.
Marv’s official obituary will point out that he was a member of the Ontario legislature from 1975 to 1977 and a chair of the London Board of Education before that.
But I loved him because he was one of the funniest guys I knew and always treated my kid brother Jeff and me as friends, not just as a buddy’s kids who had to be tolerated.
Marv was always considered a Progressive Conservative supporter in London’s political circles. And, yet, he surprised everyone when he surfaced in 1975 as a candidate for the Ontario Liberals in the riding of London North. Bill Davis was nearing the end of his first term as premier, and things weren’t going well for the PCs. You could feel it even in places such as London, which had always been strong Tory territory. After all, Davis’s predecessor as premier, John Robarts, had represented London.
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But with Marv and a 31-year-old rookie politician named David Peterson (running in London Centre), the Liberals were in ascension.
It was during the 1975 campaign that the Paikin family paid a visit to the Shores in London. Marv was totally in campaign mode — basically on political auto-pilot. When he opened the door to his home to welcome us, he offered my brother and me a handshake and said, “How ya doin’? Marv Shore, London North.”
For some reason, we all found that hysterical, and, from that moment on, my brother, father, and I, upon greeting each other, would stick out our hands and say, “Marv Shore, London North.”
As a result, I have called my brother Marv for 44 years. I also call my dad Marv. And it continues. My kids call me Marv. And I call them Marv. And there are friends of mine I’ve told this story to who call me Marv. It’s a weird but wonderful tradition.
Several years ago, my dad received a message at his office to “call Marv Shore.” He called me. “Nope, I didn’t call you,” I said. He called my brother. “Nope, I didn’t call you either,” he said. Finally, a week later, the real Marv Shore called him back and asked, “Paik, why didn’t you return my call?” It hadn’t occurred to my dad that it was the real Marv Shore who’d called, since my brother and I always left messages to “call Marv Shore” when we called him.
That 1975 election went poorly for the Tories. The Davis forces lost 27 seats and were knocked down to minority-government status. And both Marv and Peterson won their London seats. While ostensibly allies, the two were actually rivals for London’s political “top dog” status. When Peterson ran for the Liberal leadership in 1976, Marv backed Peterson’s rival — the eventual winner, Stuart Smith, of Hamilton. Eventually, things got so uncomfortable that Marv left the Liberals, crossed the floor to the PCs, and sat as a Tory backbencher for the remainder of the term.
“I remember Marv well,” says former PC MPP Phil Gillies, who lost his first bid for office in 1977 but was elected in 1981. “He caused shockwaves at Queen’s Park when he crossed the floor. A good guy who will be missed.”
When Ontarians went back to the polls in 1977, Marv lost his re-election bid to the Liberals’ Ron Van Horne. His entire stint as an MPP lasted 21 months.
“I obviously had a history with him, but I did like him,” said Ontario’s 20th premier, David Peterson, via email. “Time passes.”
Marv was buried this past weekend. His eldest son, David (one of the most successful TV series producers ever — House, The Good Doctor), remembered his dad as someone who’d loved to laugh and argue with everyone.
“He was the only white man who thought OJ was innocent,” David joked. “He listened to everyone and didn’t agree with anyone.”
In his eulogy, David acknowledged that his father had recently begun to suffer from dementia and had not been “quite in touch with reality” during his final months. Marv would often wake up in the middle of the night convinced that he had to leave his condo and go downstairs to negotiate some enormous business deal. By this point, David had moved back from California to spend more time with his dad. One night when the big business deal again beckoned, David insisted on accompanying his father to “the meeting.”
Marv said he didn’t want him tagging along.
“Look,” David said, “I’m a lawyer. You’re going to need my help signing this deal.”
Marv agreed, and the two began to leave the condo. On the elevator ride down, David asked his father several questions about the deal, and it began to dawn on Marv that he had imagined the whole thing. Hilarious right to the end, Marv told his son, “Do you know how much money you just cost me?”
Then, as was his custom, he tried to find the bright side.
“Well,” he said, “at least you saved me a lot of money in taxes.”
Whenever my kids and I visit Queen’s Park, we look for Marv’s name engraved on the walls — and we always share a smile when we find it. My eldest son, Zach, sent David Shore the following email of condolence yesterday:
“I’m celebrating Rosh Hashana this year in North London across the pond. A very appropriate way to honour the man who once represented London North.”
Marv, your name will be immortalized on the walls of Queen’s Park forever. And in our hearts and minds, too.