A tribute to our neighbour Jorge

Jorge Garcia was well-known to his neighbours. PHOTO: Contributed

You probably didn’t know this, but our neighbour Jorge Garcia died last month. If you didn’t know Jorge, you probably know someone who did.

That’s because Jorge would say hi to so many people that passed by and they all knew his name. You could be talking to Jorge anywhere on Queen Street East – near Beech Avenue where he lived or on Lee Avenue where he shopped at Foodland – and you would soon realize that he was a local celebrity. He was a lovable fellow. If you knew him, you will miss him a lot. If you didn’t know him, let me tell you a little about Jorge and his contribution to our community.

Jorge was a proud Cuban. He loved his Cuban cigars. He loved his Latin culture. But most importantly, he loved Canada and felt lucky to have lived here. Jorge was a patriot at heart. I think of the giant Canadian flag he placed outside of our building, which reminded us to be outwardly patriotic. Jorge also liked our neighbours to the south. He was a huge New York Yankees fan and he often got flack for that. He didn’t care what others thought when he wore his Yankee’s jersey, because that was his favourite team before he came to Canada. Jorge was not a conformist. He was bold and lived an authentic life.

You know how people say, that person would give you the shirt off of their back? Well, that was Jorge. During the summer, my husband complimented him on his LeBron James jersey. Later that week, Jorge bought him the same jersey. We were both touched by his generosity. Jorge was truly one of the nicest people we knew. He was generous with his time and money. If you were sitting next to him at a bar and you were having a conversation with him, he most likely would buy you a drink or two.

What I didn’t tell you about Jorge was that he felt lonely. He had no family in Canada. A couple of times he had said that we, his neighbours, were his family. We had known Jorge for a little over two years and we always loved talking to him. Jorge shared his collectivist culture with us.

He inspired us to not be so individualistic, and to do more than just greet our neighbours. He taught us to take the time to talk to our neighbours and get to know them better.

We will miss you Jorge in unit #2. Rest in peace.


Your old neighbours in unit #3

Jorge was in his late 40s when he died, and the cause of his death is still unknown to us.

He is survived by his mother and daughter in Cuba. It is our mission to reach them and pass along our condolences.

If you would like to pay your respects to Jorge, there is a curved red bench he loved to sit on, located on Beech Avenue and Queen Street East in front of The Wholesome Market. Feel free to leave flowers and notes there.

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Thank you for this! He was a pleasure and an absolute prime example of what our neighbourhood is all about- just like this article.

I will miss him along Queen too!!!! Salute!

Gone but not forgotten. I will always cherish the time we had together. Life is too short. You made me laugh and you were there when I was sick. Always there for me and taking care of me. I will miss seeing your great smile. RIP Jorge. Love you.

Hi deidre, iam jorge family’s friend and also taking care of his funeral and bringing him back to Cuba. If you have a memory or something that you would like to share with his family let me know. I will bring this article and beautiful messages to his family in Cuba so they will know how much people loved him here.

Thank you for writing this. George was so sweet, so caring and such a gentlemen. I’m going to miss you dearly my freind..On to the next adventure in the cosmos with your cigar xo

I am so saddened. I just got this news and I am in shock. I haven’t seen him for a while and was sad not to have run into him lately. He always brightened my day with his wonderful smile and sweet nature always to help. What a beautiful soul he is. You will be missed Jorge.

A genuine human being whose energy and smile were infectious. He epitomized kindness. He reminded you of the importance of just sitting and talking with friends. You left his presence happy and uplifted. I miss you dearly friend.

A lovely tribute to Jorge. I just heard the news from a former neighbour. I too was Jorge’s neighbor (apt#11). I’ll miss seeing Jorge in the neighborhood. My son and I, like many, were always greeted with a big smile, hello and high five for my little guy. My son was just asking about him the other day. I don’t think I have the heart to tell him. Rest In Peace, Jorge. You were always so nice to us – we will miss you.

I knew Jorge. He was a kind and colourful soul. I hope his family takes comfort in knowing he was so well-liked and how much he loved them. RIP Jorge.

Thank you for writing this. Jorge’s sister reached out to me to let me know of his passing. He is survived by his Mother, Daughter, and 3 sisters in Cuba. Jorge was an amazing friend of mine and we spent many a weekend watching movies or Forensic Files for hours while talking about our week at work. He was probably the most honest and genuine man I ever knew, and I will miss him forever. Words cannot begin to describe.

I received an email from one of Jorge’s sisters this evening and she sends her heart-felt thanks and gratitude to everyone for their kind words and for confirming for her that her brother was so loved by all. The family’s hearts are broken over this tragedy. “These words have touched my heart and the soul of my brother lives in his friends and neighbours, and in the place where he loved to sit.” Jorge loved family above all else.

My name is Michael Fox. I knew him a bit, not as much as others here, but like everyone is saying he was so friendly and I joy to speak to. He was great with my son, high-fiving and wanting to create a smile. My friend Zack knew him well too.

So, I reached out to city councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon suggesting maybe some recognition is in order considering so many people knew him, his story coming here from Cuba and pride in Canada, and appreciated his character.

She suggested how about naming a lane after him. Want to do that? There is a lane just north of Queen between Beech and Spruce Hill Rd. I’m not sure it’s already for a name. If this sounds like a good idea please email me at michael@urbanjazz.ca, and I’ll look into next steps.

What an outstanding tribute that would be to Jorge and everyone he touched in our neighbourhood. I’ve also emailed you directly to let you know I thought it to be a great idea. Thank you!

A laneway naming is a great idea. Be reminded however, laneways are usually for cars and garbage, so be sure you can live with that, when naming it in honour of this fine man. Other options of course are trees and benches and you could ‘community source fund’ it. Please don’t think I am not in favour of a lasting tribute, I just think there MIGHT be other alternatives and if not the Laneway naming has my support and MMM can make that happen.

Jorge would appreciate designating the lane in his name as a way to show appreciation for his friendship and character. I can see him smiling now. It is the simple things, moments and encounters we truly appreciate in life. I pray for his family, especially his mother and daughter.

We were touched by your tribute to Jorge.
My wife and I had the pleasure of knowing him almost since his arrival in Canada. Jorge didn’t just rent our basement apartment for many years, he was also an ”adopted “ member of our family, calling us auntie and uncle. Jorge was a kind and generous soul who would do anything for the people he cared about. We will always treasure our memories of Jorge, whether it was at family get-togethers or just hanging out in the backyard.. All of our family will miss his big smile, his love for his fellow man and of course his funny but terrible jokes

We grieve for his mother and sisters and send them our love. We have lost a dear “nephew” and sweet man.
“Auntie” Doreen and “Uncle” Ted

Uncle Ted and Auntie Doreen, Jorge spoke of you to me very often and with great love and respect. You were so kind to him and he never ever ever forgot the joy and love he experienced while living at your house, and the sense of belonging to your family forever. And yes, those jokes! haha! Thank you for posting and know that he did have friends here and continued to spread the love and joy that was Jorge.

Thank you so much for writing this. I was absolutely heartbroken to learn from a neigbourhood friend only yesterday that he had passed. He bought me coffee twice, once at the remarkable bean, once at starbucks. I do a lot of walking in the neighbourhood, and he would always be so encouraging. I looked forward to running into him all the time. His friendly energy in the neighbourhood will certainly be missed.

Thank you for this article. Jorge lived in the building next to ours and we always were happy to see him standing out front with his cigar and his amazingly happy and positive attitude. The day we moved in he was the first to say hi and introduce himself and many times after, my boyfriend and I would run into him and get to chat with him about his family and his home and life in general. I always looked forward to coming home from work and getting his usual friendly smile and greeting as I walked by. Both my partner and I are so sad to not see him every day and miss seeing and chatting with him. Such a kind soul.
I would love to know or if not already in progress, help create a memorial/rememberance night for all us beachers to celebrate his life. Please let me know if anyone would like to plan a community gathering of sorts. Maybe at a local beach pub (outrigger was close to him so maybe there?) I also love the idea of the laneway and am totally in support of thAt! RIP Jorge. You are missed.

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