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"RIG" 2003 Obituary


RIGAL  RIGG 

RIGAL o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-12-11 published
GELBER, Sylva Malka, OC, LL.D.
93 years old, Sylva Malka GELBER, whose years of activism in pre-Israel Palestine eventually propelled her to be the first director of the Canadian Department of Labour's Women's Bureau, died on December 9th, 2003, of complications from a stroke. She was 93 and lived in Ottawa.
During the heady years of pioneering in gains for women's rights and Medicare in Canada during the 1960s and 70s, she travelled the country, never shrill and always reasoned in her campaign for equality for women in the country's labour force. She took this pragmatic approach to the United Nations where she represented Canada on the United Nations Commission for the Status of Women between 1970 - 74.
A social and industrial activist at heart, she never lost her zest for a good argument on those issues which had been part of her adult life since she left her comfortable Toronto home in the early 1930s for the turmoil of Jerusalem and Palestine. There she became the first graduate of the Va'ad Leumi School of Social Work - now the Faculty of Social Work of the Hebrew University - and took on jobs incongruous with her upbringing which had included schooling at Havergal College, a private girl's school.
She worked in Palestine during the Mandate as a family counsellor, a probation officer and medical social worker at Hadassah Hospital, and then with the Palestine Department of Labour from 1942 - 48 when she returned to Canada. The adventuresome 15 years Sylva GELBER lived in the turmoil of Palestine are chronicled with affection, awe and frankness in ''No Balm in Gilead: A Personal Retrospective of Mandate Days in Palestine'' published in 1989. By the time she moved back to Canada, she could switch effortlessly among Hebrew and Arabic and English which impressed no one in bureaucratic Ottawa, but did startle the Capital's stuffy side, she often noted mischievously.
Her deep red lipstick and nail polish when paired with her fast sports cars belied the image of the traditional Ottawa civil servant she could never be, despite distinguished and proud accomplishments in promoting federal health insurance and Medicare until they became the law of the land.
Along the way, she accepted many appointments to serve Canada at International Labour Organization conferences, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations General Assembly. She was a member of the Order of Canada and was awarded honorary degrees from several universities including Queen's, Memorial, Trent, Guelph and Mount St. Vincent.
Sylva Malka GELBER was born in 1910 in Toronto to Sara (MORRIS) and Louis GELBER. Her father, a survivor of pogroms in Eastern Europe, was determined that her four brothers, all of whom attended Upper Canada College, and she, all receive worldly educations beyond their specific Jewish community. She always admired her father for this farsightedness in encouraging his children to become part of a broader society.
At the University of Toronto, she produced plays. She sang spirituals on a Toronto radio station, but her parents would have none of a show business career. She was packed off to Columbia University in New York; but even that did not satisfy her rambunctious spirit and soon she was on her way to distant Palestine.
Never domesticated as women of her day usually were, she paid little attention to her kitchen pantry when she finally settled in Ottawa; but always gregarious, she loved to entertain around the piano which she played by ear and with great gusto. Her library of records and Compact Disks, was always in use as music filled her life; and she has endowed an important annual prize through The Sylva Gelber Music Foundation, which is granted to an outstanding young Canadian musician at the early stage of his or her career.
In retirement, she energetically participated in the Canadian Institute of International Affairs and the Wednesday Luncheon Club of former cabinet ministers and civil servants, such as her neighbour, Jack PICKERSGILL, who thrashed over current political issues.
Sylva GELBER was predeceased by her four brothers, Lionel, Marvin, Arthur and Shalome Michael. She is survived by her four nieces and their husbands, Nance GELBER and Dan BJARNASON, Patty and David RUBIN, Judith GELBER and Dan PRESLEY, and Sara and Richard CHARNEY, all of Toronto; her sister-in-law, Marianne GELBER of New York; four great nephews and a great niece, Gerald and Noah RUBIN, and Adam, Andrew and Laura CHARNEY; as well as cousins Ruth JEWEL and David EISEN; David ALEXANDOR, and Ruth GELBER all of Toronto; and Ivan CHORNEY and Betsy RIGAL, both of Ottawa. At Benjamin's Park Memorial Chapel, 2401 Steeles Avenue West (1 light west of Dufferin) for service on Thursday, December 11, 2003 at 12: 00 noon. Interment Beth Tzedec Memorial Park.

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RIGG o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-02-24 published
YOCOM, John H. (Jack) Hons. B.A., M.A., Ph.D., M.B.A.
At North York on February 22, 2003 after a lengthy career in education, journalism, corporate communications and community service. Survived by his beloved wife Catherine CHARLTON, (pre-deceased by his loving wife Helen DOLAN 1989.) Survived by his sister Helen RIGG, Dunnville; also by sons John J. (Suzy) of Mississauga, Paul A. of Calgary, Mary Anne MAHONEY (Dr. James) of Toronto, and nine grandchildren: Jay, Robert and Christopher YOCOM, Michael, Mark, Mary Helen and Matthew MAHONEY, and Wesley and Natalie YOCOM of Calgary. Born in Dunnville, Ontario, 1911; educated at Toronto, Ottawa and York Universities; after U.C. graduation taught high school in Ottawa for a short time before joining the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Flt. Lt. for World War 2 overseas service. Upon return joined Saturday Night Magazine, becoming managing editor; left Saturday Night Magazine to work for British American Oil Company (later Gulf Oil Canada). Upon retirement worked for a short while at Vickers and Benson Advertising. Involved in professional and community service; President, Toronto Canadian Club, Chairman, Institute of Canadian American Studies, President, Life Member and Fellow of Canadian Public Relations Society, President and Life Member Arts and Letters Club of Toronto. Board Member: Canadian Paraplegic Association, Toronto Symphony National Youth Orchestra and other institutions. Member: Royal Canadian Military Institute, and Royal Canadian Legion, Ft. York Br. Consultant to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Recipient of: the Queen's Silver Coronation Medal; University of Toronto 70 year medal; York University's Schulich School of Business Distinguished Alumni Award. Business awards include; four Silver Anvils by Public Relations Society of America for premier corporate communications. The family will receive Friends at the Humphrey Funeral Home - A. W. Miles Chapel, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Eglinton Avenue East), from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday. Funeral Service in the chapel on Wednesday at 1: 00 o'clock. Officiating clergy: the Rev. Dr. Malcolm SINCLAIR, Metropolitan United Church and Father Paul CUSACK, St. Gabriel's Roman Catholic Church.

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