Alex Rodrigues

This award-winning senior writes a newsletter for more than 400 of his peers.

November 24, 2020 | | Over the Next Hill

Snapshot: Meet a Community Elder

“I worry about what the Covid-19 forced isolation is doing to the mental health of our seniors, particularly those living alone,” says Alex Rodrigues, president of the Caledon Seniors’ Council for the past 14 years.

In his long career in the space program, Alex Rodrigues travelled regularly to the Kennedy Space Center for work on the Canadarm. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

In his long career in the space program, Alex Rodrigues travelled regularly to the Kennedy Space Center for work on the Canadarm. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

At 80, Alex’s gracious empathy is a touchstone of his personality. Born in Burma (now Myanmar), he was 2½ years old when the Japanese invaded the British colony in 1942. His family fled to Goa, a Portuguese colony at the time, and then moved on to Bombay (now Mumbai), where he and his seven siblings attended private Catholic schools.

In his late teens, Alex emigrated to England, where he studied to become an electronics technician and married Doris, the love of his life. After the birth of their first child, the couple immigrated to Toronto, and three more children eventually followed.

Alex’s career path took him to Montreal with Marconi, back to Toronto with Litton Systems and then on to Spar Aerospace, which subsequently won the contract to build the Canadarm, Canada’s contribution to the space program.

For the next 34 years, he was involved with the space program, travelling regularly to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to work on issues related to the hardware of the Canadarm and meeting astronauts Chris Hadfield, John Young and many other superstars of the space program along the way.

After volunteering to coach his own children’s soccer teams, Alex went on to spend 13 years coaching competitive soccer teams for kids aged seven to 17. The teams were hugely successful, winning national and North American titles year after year. “Thinking about the positive impact the game of soccer had on those young lives always gives me a secret smile,” he says.

Honoured with a Caledon Community Services award in 2010 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012, Alex was named Caledon’s Senior of the Year in 2017. He continues to write a newsletter that is emailed to more than 400 seniors every two months. He also plays bridge and euchre socially, and though the pandemic has currently curtailed his social activities, he and Doris try to enjoy time with their eight grandchildren whenever the opportunity arises.

About the Author More by Gail Grant

Gail Grant is a freelance writer who lives in Palgrave.

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