After more than 50 years in dentistry, Dr. Gordon Perlmutter is putting away his drill, scaler and syringes.
“But not quite,” says his daughter Dr. Sharon Perlmutter, who is also a dentist and a community volunteer.
“My father still comes into the office every day when he is in town. He checks the mail and does some administrative tasks.”
Born in Sarny, Poland, Gordon came with his family to Canada when he was three month old. As a student at Harbord Collegiate Institute, he worked in his parents’ bakery, Home Bread Bakery at 630 College Street, decorating cakes and delivering the baked goods on his bicycle.
In 1948, Gordon’s parents sold Home Bread and bought the Flip Glen Bakery at Dufferin Street and Glencairn Avenue. Gordon continued to work part time in the bakery while attending University of Toronto’s dental school.
After graduation in 1950, he established a practice above his father’s bakery and continued his studies at U of T, University of Michigan and Tufts University in Boston. He received fellowships and awards in both Canada and the United States.
He worked in the area for more than 40 years. When Sharon graduated dentistry 13 years ago, father and daughter moved to larger facilities at Glencairn and Bathurst.
Throughout his career, Gordon has served as a volunteer dental practitioner. After graduation, he treated children at the residence of the Loyal True Blue and Orange Home for Orphans. He has also volunteered at Mount Sinai Hospital for two years, the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care for 30 years and treated public school children at North York’s Public Health Dental Department for eight years.
Along with his practice, Gordon has served in the community for many years. To name but a few positions he has held, he served as president of the North Toronto District Dental Society, president of the Toronto Academy of Dentistry, president of the Toronto alumni chapter of Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity and president of Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity, a position only four other Canadians have held.
Gordon has also volunteered for United Jewish Appeal, going on missions to Washington, D.C., and Israel, and raised funds for dental schools in the Jewish state.
Today, he and his wife Estelle spend four months in Florida each winter. When in Toronto, he attends services at Beth Tzedec Synagogue, where he has been a member for more than 40 years.
In an interview, Gordon said. “I am grateful for the many friends who shared my activities over the years. I’ve had 19 associates, and they have all remained friends. Sharon is my 20th.”
In a separate interview, Sharon said her father was very committed to his profession. He was so committed, in fact, that “as kids, we often complained that our father was too busy.”
But she said she is realizing more and more how loved and admired her father is by his patients and members of the community.
“Now, when we see his accomplishments, we realize that everything he did for the community was like doing it for his extended family.
“The greatest compliment to me is when former patients of my father tell me that I must be good because my father, who has high standards, allowed me to take care of his patients.
“And wherever I travel throughout the world, when they hear the name Dr. Gordon Perlmutter of Toronto, they welcome me with open arms and tell me how my father touched them.
“[Their] only complaint is that I don’t tell jokes the way my father does – particularly in Yiddish,” Sharon said with a chuckle.
Today, the Perlmutters have three children – Phillip, Sharon and Nanci (Soicher), and four grandchildren.
Of all his lifetime achievements, Gordon says his family is most important.
“Above all, my joy in watching the growth and success of my family – this is my greatest source of satisfaction.”
‘Everything he did for community was like doing it for his extended family.’ ♦
This article appeared originally in the Canadian Jewish News and appears here courtesy of the author. © 2002 by Cynthia Gasner.