Gordon-Fulton
Bloomin' Biz

In Memoriam: Gordon Fulton, AIFD, CAFA

October 3, 1962 – November 13, 2017
Didsbury, Alberta

Mere weeks before he intended to reopen his shop, Victoria’s Flowers, in Didsburg, Alberta, Gordon Fulton, AIFD, CAFA, died on November 13 at age 55.

When news broke of his passing, florists from far and wide expressed sorrow for a man who possessed a sharp eye for design, unbridled enthusiasm, and an insatiable desire to help his friends.

Mere weeks before he intended to reopen his shop, Victoria’s Flowers, in Didsburg, Alberta, Gordon Fulton, AIFD, CAFA, died on November 13 at age 55.

When news broke of his passing, florists from far and wide expressed sorrow for a man who possessed a sharp eye for design, unbridled enthusiasm, and an insatiable desire to help his friends.

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“I’m devastated,” said Jorge Uribe, CFD, owner of Urban Floral in Wolcott, Connecticut. The two florists met a little over a year ago, but have talked at least once or twice a week since. “He liked to text me funny things like, ‘Get your ass out of bed, mister!’ even though he knew I was already at work. He had this never-ending energy that was contagious; he helped keep me motivated in my work.”

Uribe and Fulton had planned a joint presentation at the 2018 AIFD Symposium, when Uribe will be formally inducted into the organization—a bittersweet moment without his friend present.

“It’s hard to pinpoint a favorite memory,” he said. “He was just an all-around great friend. He even came out to my shop last year for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day to help me with the rush.”

Stephanie LaPrairie, AIFD, had similar memories from when she owned Stems Flowers & Café in Red Deer, Alberta. “I was very, very pregnant during Mother’s Day 2011 and Gord couldn’t bear to see me work too hard and insisted he come help,” she said.

“He always jumped at the chance to help people out, no matter the cost or timeline. He volunteered endlessly for AIFD, design shows, competitions, etc.”

“What a trooper!” recalled Dawn Block, AIFD, CAFA, a freelance designer in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “I needed a male model and Gord was there. He even took off his shirt when the audience asked!”
His playfulness left a lasting impression on many.

“From the moment I met Gord at an AIFD symposium, I knew we’d forever be friends. I hired him many times to help me design and install large weddings and events, where we worked hard and played harder,” said BJ Dyer, AAF, AIFD, owner of Bouquets in Denver, Colorado. “He was a sponge for information and curious about all aspects of the floral industry—and life. He braved his first oyster with me because he knew I adored them. I will miss his design ability, but mostly I’ll miss his willingness to get into trouble at the mere mention of an adventure.”

Alice Zamburek, horticulturist for Olds Central Highlands Golf Course in Alberta, echoed Dyer’s sentiments. “Gord was talented, helpful, loving, and an absolute hoot,” she said. “My heart broke when I heard he’s gone.”
Fulton had an unusual entry into the floral industry. For years, he worked as a sign language interpreter. In the early 2000s, a deaf student at Olds College needed his assistance to complete the commercial floristry program. In the process of translating the course, Fulton acquired an education and a newfound passion. When a flower shop owner in his town, Didsbury, needed an extra hand, Fulton stepped in because of his training by osmosis. Shortly thereafter, he opened Victoria’s Flowers and Gifts, named after his daughter.

Throughout his career, Fulton pursued every opportunity to strengthen his skills, attending seminars, entering competitions such as the Maple Leaf Cup, and seeking accreditation with the American Institute of Floral Designers and the Canadian Academy of Floral Art.

Betty Houle, AIFD, who worked at Victoria’s Flowers for seven years, bonded with Fulton over their craft and their lives. “We trained and tested together for AIFD,” she said. “And in the process, we learned a lot about each other—our lives and our passions.”
She recalled his excitement for the annual AIFD Symposium, where he always volunteered in the work room. “He wanted to see what everyone was doing. He was inspired by the passions and friendships of the people in the floral industry,” she said. “He was always so excited to try something challenging and new. And, if was going to be fun, he was there.”

Fulton also relished the Didsbury High School graduation, donating his time and some products to give students a fabulous sendoff.
“This was a big job,” Houle emphasized. One year, they made a giant chandelier out of strings of crystals and hung sheer fabric from the rafters. “Gord always helped the planning committee with ideas and suggestions,” she said. “They told him their budget, he would help plan the flowers and decorations, donating what was not covered in the budget because he wanted it to be beautiful.”
Fulton sold his shop a year and a half ago, working as a freelancer for friends around Canada and the U.S., but had decided to jump back into the retail business in late November.

“He was so eager to be the best he could be,” said Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, EMC, director of Designe358 in Vancouver, British Columbia. “I loved his spirit and will always remember his enthusiasm. He will be greatly missed.”

Katie Hendrick
Katie Hendrick is the editor-in-chief of Canadian Florist.
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