Gordie was born on a Floral Saskatchewan farm in 1928, one of nine children. Raised in the Depression, he quit school early and went to work in construction with his father. At the age of five, in the depths of the Great Depression, Gordie found a pair of used skates in a bag his mother bought at a garage sale for fifty cents. He began playing hockey at the age of eight and left home to pursue his sports career at the age of sixteen. He is the only hockey player to have played professional hockey in six consecutive decades.
Colleen Joffa was also born on a farm, near Sandusky, Michigan.
Colleen and Gordie met in the winter of 51-52 at a Detroit bowling alley, the Lucky Strike Lanes, when Colleen was only seventeen. They were opposite in many ways. She was outgoing, he was shy. She was an only child raised in a single parent home, he came from a family of nine children. But opposites must attract because they hit it off and were married four years later, in April, 1953.
Colleen and Gordie had one daughter and three sons. Two sons went on to follow their father as hockey players.
Colleen became a sports agent, representing her husband and sons. She was known for being a tiger at negotiating and was honored in her own right for her contributions to the sport of hockey. Some gave her the name Dragon Lady, relating to her negotiating skills. But mostly she was known as Mrs. Hockey.
Colleen wrote several books relating to her life with Gordie and with hockey. She made this comment about their life together. "Gordie has probably had a good look at somebody else," she wrote, but "What I do know is how deeply Gordie feels about me and the rest of his family. With that, I feel secure."
Gordie wrote this dedication to Colleen during her final illness, "While I received the applause, you stood behind me and cheered the loudest. While I focused on improving my game, you made sure the bills were getting paid. While I was on the overnight trains and planes from city to city, you were tucking in the kids and teaching them to pray for their daddy.
"You have been my biggest fan. My agent. My dietician. My counsellor. And even now as you battle for your life, you are my inspiration, my strength, and the love of my life."
Colleen died in 2009. Gordie is now 86.