Mere weeks before he intended to reopen his shop, Victoria’s Flowers, in Didsbury, 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.
“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 to give a joint presentation at the 2018 AIFD Symposium, when Uribe will be formally inducted into the organization, which he said will be a bittersweet moment without his friend present.
“It’s hard to pinpoint a favorite memory of Gord,” he said. “He was just an all-around great guy. 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 assist,” 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.”
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 a formal 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, 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. He closed his shop in the last year and a half, working as a freelancer for friends around Canada and the U.S., but had decided to jump back into the retail business later this month.
“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.”