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Gordon McIver: Death of Aberdeen martial arts instructor and former fireman aged 71

Aberdeen martial arts instructor and former fireman Gordon McIver.

Former fireman, doorman and martial arts instructor Gordon ‘Gogs’ McIver has died aged 71.

The Aberdeen dad-of-two who owns Portlethen’s Sooyang Do Martial Art International school passed away at home in the arms of wife Colleen.

“He was heroic,” said Colleen. “This time the cancer – and all it’s done to him just couldn’t be beaten. I’ve lost my soul mate.”

“Don’t come back to school!”

Born on September 14, 1950 to Doris and Gordon McIver – a building society director from Rubislaw – Gordon had two older brothers, John and David.

Educated at both primary and secondary level at Robert Gordon’s College he wasn’t particularly academic.

In fact, the Scotland rugby fan was invited not to return following an incident where he and his pals physically picked up the headmaster’s car and moved it.

Children from Aberdeen Festival in 1988 with Gordon McIver, second from right, pictured with Dennis Scott, to his left, and Sandy Nicholson.

After school Gordon worked at a clothing company, as a taxi driver then for Cadbury Schweppes, fueling his fondness for chocolate.

In 1975 he became a firefighter.

Love of his life

But it was during a stint working nights as a doorman in Aberdeen for Eagles and Charlie’s that he met Colleen Chapman.

“I was just 21 and Gordon was 42. He had been married before and was on his own by then and I just thought he was so handsome.

Gordon McIver in his younger years as a Aberdeen fireman.

“One look at him in that firefighter uniform and I had butterflies.

“We met in February, moved in together in April and got married in October.”

Gordon got down on one knee in Union Grove where they lived and the pair tied the knot at the North Kirk on King Street.

Gordon and Colleen McIver on their wedding day.

Their wedding took place on October 22, 1993 but Gordon sadly died just before their 28th wedding anniversary.

Martial arts

Colleen and Gordon welcomed their daughter Gemma into the world in 1994.

And when she was five they attended a family self defense class.

They then progressed to Choi Kwang Do as a hobby.

The family that kicks together sticks together: The McIvers following their triple black belt success.

“We just loved it right away. By the time Gemma was eight she had a black belt and we all progressed.”

The family studied under Master Bruce Wood and eventually joined him in running their own branches of Sooyang Do Martial Arts International.

Colleen runs the Bridge of Don classes and Gordon looked after Portlethen.

Courage and humility

Master Wood payed tribute to Gordon – who only took up martial arts in his late 40s.

He said: “Gordon encapsulated the tenets of “courtesy, integrity, humility, and respect” which are the cornerstone of Sooyang Do.

Gordon McIver who taught at Sooyang Do, Portlethen.

“Not necessarily the most athletic of martial artists, having begun his training at a relatively late age, he enjoyed the admiration, loyalty and respect of all of the many hundreds of students he taught over the years, who he coached successfully to a very high level.

“It is impossible to exaggerate the positive influence Gordon had on so many young people, who were privileged to have him as their instructor.”

Health challenges

Despite overcoming prostate cancer, first diagnosed six years ago, Gordon took ill again on his 70th birthday last year.

At Aberdeen’s Sports Awards receiving his Inspiration Award in 2017: Gordon McIver.

“He went through everything you could when faced with cancer – and even got an award for being so inspiring as he fought it.

“But last year a tumour began pressing on his sciatic nerve which caused agonising pain, which more recently led to sepsis.”

Bedside vigil

For 20 days and nights Colleen stayed with Gordon on ward 114 of the ARI in the Anchor Unit.

With Gemma too they watched Gordon bravely battle through pain – but he let them know his time to go was coming.

Colleen and Gordon McIver with their dogs Lola and Todd.

“He was hallucinating at times and one day he was describing himself as a samurai warrior.

“He said, ‘it’s time for me to die… I’ve failed the master and need to go now.

“We knew it was just the medicine; he was heroic. Gordon didn’t fail at anything.”

Love to help others

Involved with Sport Aberdeen, ClubSport and Aberdeenshire Hubs, Gordon also loved spending time with friends.

Visiting Murrayfield to watch Scotland play rugby, walking his dogs Lola and Todd, and helping others were among his favourite pass times.

Kerri and Gemma, Gordon’s two daughters.

He was also a proud of his daughter Kerri from his previous marriage, her husband George and their children Reece and Skye, in Texas.

“I want to come home”

Exhausted in his final days Gordon asked to come home to rest.

Pushing her bed against his hospital bed in the living room, Colleen curled up beside her husband one last time, last weekend.

“He was never the most romantic but towards the end he would purse his lips and come in for a kiss.

Gordon and Colleen with daughter Gemma and her hsuband-t0-be Paul.

“I’d say ‘ah your finally romantic, are you?’

“His final words to me were ‘I love you.’ And oh how I will miss this wonderful man.”

Gordon passed away surrounded by his family – Gemma, her fiancé Paul and mother-in-law Margaret, in the arms of Colleen on Saturday, October 16.

A fitting farewell

A celebration of Gordon McIver’s life will take place on October 29 at 1.15 in Aberdeen Crematorium’s West Chapel.

He will be laid to rest in the Scotland rugby shirt he was given for his 70th birthday and a piper in full fire service uniform will play his favourite Highland Cathedral.

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