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"EGO" 2005 Obituary


EGO  EGOFF 

EGO o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2005-03-29 published
EGO, Andrew
(Owner of Custom Engine Service, Keswick, Ontario) At Southlake Regional Health Centre, Newmarket, on Sunday, March 27, 2005 at the age of 45 years. Andy EGO of Sutton, loving spouse of Henny RISEBROUGH. " Andy" to Henny's children Jenn (Nate MICHEL) and Elton RISEBROUGH (Natalie.) Papa to Noah and Aidan. Dear brother of Pat, Kim, Jim (Robin) and Tom. Uncle of Kyle and Kevin EGO. Predeceased by his parents Marie and Bill EGO. Memorial visitation will be held in the Taylor Funeral Home, 20846 Dalton Road, Sutton from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday. Memorial Service in Knox United Church, 34 Market Street, Sutton, Thursday at 4: 00 p.m. Visitation in the church from 2: 00 p.m. Donations to the Canadian Cancer Society or the Heart and Stroke Foundation would be appreciated by the family.

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EGO o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2005-07-06 published
GERRARD, Doreen Rosetta (EGO)

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EGOFF o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2005-05-29 published
Sheila EGOFF, Librarian and Academic 1918-2005
Authority on children's literature goaded Canadian writers and publishers to overcome the curse of mediocrity, writes Sandra MARTIN. In the end, their books came of age and are now among the world's best
By Sandra MARTIN, Saturday, May 28, 2005, Page S9
Children's literature is one of our international success stories, so it's easy to forget how stony the field was in the middle years of the last century. We published 47 children's books in 1968 compared to 3,874 American and 2,075 British titles, according to an incisive paper written by librarian Sheila EGOFF for the Royal Ontario Commission on Book Publishing.
"There was a small handful of mostly boring books," remembers Janet LUNN, author of The Root Cellar and Shadow in Hawthorn Bay and the first children's editor to be hired by a Canadian publishing company. "If you were going to stack them up against what was coming out of the United States and Britain, it was pretty tedious."
But stack them up against international standards was precisely what Professor EGOFF did in landmark books such as The Republic of Childhood, Only Connect, Thursday's Child and Worlds Within. "If you think a mediocre book can do something for children, I'll ask you why a good book can't do it better," she was fond of saying. Age did not temper her critical tastes.
In 1984, the year after she retired as professor emerita of youth literature at University of British Columbia, she railed at the offerings in the children's sections of many Canadian libraries, arguing that it might be better for teenagers to read nothing at all than something like Conan the Barbarian, "a pseudo-scientific series about a macho hero who is racist and everything else." One can only wonder how she would react to the current debate about young people's literacy scores in Canada.
But Prof. EGOFF also loved a party, especially when the wine was flowing. She was an inspired lecturer and a devoted friend and colleague to generations of librarians, including University of British Columbia professor Judith Saltman, broadcaster Bill Richardson and writers Kit Pearson and Sarah Ellis.
"Her students were her family," said Ms. Pearson. But affection didn't compromise her standards when it came to marking papers or evaluating literary works. "I was almost afraid to submit my first manuscript," Ms. Pearson said, "because I knew from Sheila what a children's book should be."
"She had a way of deciding your destiny," said Ms. Ellis, who was diverted from a career as a rare books librarian by her exposure to Prof. EGOFF. " Once you got in her gaze, there was no looking away." Ms. Ellis, who still works part-time as a children's librarian, admitted that she wasn't convinced that Prof. EGOFF really liked her award-winning novels. "Deep in her heart, she thought that anything other than being a children's librarian is a bit of a comedown."
"She captivated us," said Prof. Saltman this week. Eventually Prof. Saltman became her mentor's research assistant, then her collaborator and finally her successor at what is now called the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies. "I feel as though I have lost a third parent," she said.
Sheila Agnes EGOFF was born in Auburn, Maine, the only daughter of Dane and Lucy Joyce EGOFF. After her father, a Bulgarian immigrant, drowned when Sheila was 1 and her brother George 4, her mother moved back to her home town of Galt (now Cambridge) in southwestern Ontario. Money was scarce, said Prof. EGOFF's nephew John. He thinks this early hardship may explain why his aunt and his father both had such an intense drive to succeed. His father turned it inward, doing his utmost to provide for his family, while his aunt strived for professional achievements, choosing a career over marriage and family.
Prof. EGOFF, who grew up Catholic in a very Protestant town, credited her passion for reading with her discovery of the local public library at the age of 8. As a high school student she worked there part-time for 25 cents an hour, before earning a diploma in librarianship in 1938 at the University of Toronto. She returned to Galt for a job in that same library before moving back to Toronto in 1942 to work at Boys and Girls House under those ace practitioners of her vocation, Alice KANE and Lillian H. SMITH (author of the classic text The Unreluctant Years.) At the same time, she studied for her bachelor's degree, graduating in 1948 from the U of T.
After taking a study leave from the Toronto Public Library, she earned a library diploma at the University of London in 1949. She was eternally grateful to her older brother George, says her nephew John, for financing her postgraduate studies. Always thinking, always planning and strategizing, Prof. EGOFF was the catalyst in negotiating the transfer of English librarian John Osborne's famed collection of early children's books to the Toronto Public Library in 1949 in honour of Ms. SMITH.
Thinking she needed a change, Prof. EGOFF crossed the threshold into adult services and put in a five-year stint as a reference librarian (from 1952 to 57) followed by a move to Ottawa where she worked for four years for the Canadian Library Association. That's where she was on a sweltering day in 1961 when she received a phone call from Sam Rothstein, founding director of the School of Librarianship at the University of British Columbia.
As Prof. EGOFF loved to tell the story: It was 90 degrees, the humidex was in the stratosphere and she was lying naked on the bed in her tiny Ottawa apartment fantasizing about air conditioning. Prof. Rothstein mentioned that it was balmy and 68 in Vancouver, the Bolshoi was coming to town and how would she like to be the fledgling faculty's specialist in children's literature and library services? To which she allegedly replied: "When's the next plane?"
Prof. EGOFF taught at University of British Columbia for more than 25 years, becoming the first full-time tenured professor of children's literature at a Canadian university. In 1964, a group calling itself the Children's Recreational Reading Council of Toronto commissioned her to write a book about Canadian children's books as its centennial project. William TOYE, then trade editor of Oxford University Press, agreed to work with her and to publish the text. It was a fortuitous combination, for Mr. TOYE, known in the trade for his ruthless blue pencil and his insistence on clarity, was himself an expert in the subject. It was the beginning of a long editorial relationship and an even longer Friendship that included three editions of The Republic of Childhood and two of Only Connect: Readings on Children's Literature.
"Nobody with her authority or background had written about Canadian children's books," he said this week. "She had read every Canadian children's book and she certainly knew all the English and American classics." What she brought to her discussion of children's books was honesty, Mr. TOYE said. "It wasn't that she was destructive. She could see where the quality lay and where it was missing."
Back then most people expected to have our books praised and encouraged simply for existing. "She was extremely crusty and quite hostile," says Patsy Aldana, publisher of Groundwood Books. "She was not a supporter of Canadian books, she was a supporter of quality publishing and she felt, with quite a bit of justification, that the books were very bad." Nevertheless, Ms. Aldana feels that her "goading" had a "bracing" effect on younger writers and publishers. "We felt very embattled and attacked, but I think there was also a real sense that this is not how it has to be and we are going to prove her wrong." And in the end, Canadian children's books did come of age and Prof. EGOFF "responded to what we did and became a supporter of many of our authors."
Mr. TOYE agrees. "Children's books were her life and anything she could do -- to talk to people about them, to write about them, to teach -- she would do and in the process she changed the standard of appreciation of children's books in Canada."
By the time Ms. EGOFF retired in 1983, she had organized the Pacific Rim Conference on Children's Literature in 1976 (bringing participants from China, Japan and Australia as well as North and South America), developed five graduate courses in children's literature and library services, inspired generations of librarians, and written or edited several seminal texts. Retirement certainly didn't mean putting her vocation behind her. If anything, it gave her more time to write and to edit and to work with "her spies in the field" as she called the ranks of children's librarians she had trained.
About five years ago, her eyesight failed because of macular degeneration. Scores of Friends and students read to her, especially the annual nominees for the British Columbia book award named in her honour. She continued to write despite failing health and, with the help of Wendy Sutton, finished the manuscript for My Life with Children's Books, which will be published by Orca Books this autumn.
Two weeks ago she phoned her old friend and editor William TOYE and asked him to write the preface to her memoirs. He said, "It was a beautiful closure to our Friendship."
Sheila Agnes EGOFF was born in Auburn, Maine, on January 20, 1918. She died of kidney failure on May 22, 2005, in hospital in Vancouver. She was 87. She is survived by three nephews and their families.

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EGOFF o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2005-06-02 published
I Remember -- Sheila EGOFF
By John MOFFAT, Thursday, June 2, 2005, Page S9
John MOFFAT of Cambridge, Ontario, writes about Sheila EGOFF, whose obituary appeared on May 28.
Sheila EGOFF entered my life when she was the inspirational mistress of the children's department of the Galt Public Library and I was one of her pediatric "bookworms." Her desk controlled the entrance to the section and, from there, she exercised a wonderful ability to spot and encourage "hard-core" readers among the grade-school set.
In 1956, I ran into her again at the Toronto Reference Library on College Street, where she was working at the time. She was in the habit of holding soirees at her apartment, The Cawthra, across the road from the library, and my wife and I were lucky enough to be invited. The crowd was a diverse and interesting group, the food was Italian, the wine was red, and one was obliged to bring along a 78 record of an excerpt from one's favourite opera. Sheila supplied one for us, The Nun's Chorus from the Strauss operetta, Casanova, and to this day I think of her whenever I hear it. I learned recently from Bernard MAHLER, a mutual friend, that her soirees were famous in the literary circles in which she travelled.
In 2002, which was the last time I saw her, Sheila was one of the keynote speakers at the 150th anniversary of the Galt Collegiate Institute and her address was the highlight.

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