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"HEC" 2007 Obituary


HECHT o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-10-17 published
Venture capitalist understood both ends of the corporate ladder
A man who liked to say he didn't so much as invest in a company as back a friend, his greatest success came from backing an invention by a lifelong pal, writes Sandra MARTIN
By Sandra MARTIN, Page S10
An astute observer of human character and an extremely successful venture capitalist, Bram APPEL grew up on St. Urbain Street in Montreal - as unlike Mordecai Richler's Duddy Kravitz as it is possible to be. He trained as a chartered accountant, but what interested him most about doing someone's books was engaging in conversation about how a business worked, and learning its strengths and weaknesses. His inquisitive mind and ability to engage people made him an appealing conversationalist, but it was his integrity and deep sense of right and wrong that made him lasting Friends on both ends of the corporate ladder.
His earliest and biggest financial success came from backing an invention by his friend David PALL, a brilliant physical chemist he had met while they were both impoverished students at McGill University in the 1930s. That initial investment of $3,000 grew like yeast. Today, Pall Corp., a leader in filtration, separations and purification applications in industry and the biological and health sciences, has annual sales in excess of $2-billion (U.S.) and a market capitalization of more than $5-billion.
"The energy and enthusiasm he had for the whole proposition of inventing products, getting them to market widely and getting an organization to succeed and to do good, but to do it at a good profit," is what Eric KRASNOFF, chair and Chief Executive Officer of Pall, remembers most about Mr. APPEL, who only retired as founder-director at 90 in 2005.
"In board meetings, the focus is on the broad picture and new products and new markets, and in the audit meetings he would concentrate on the smallest details, such as how petty cash was managed at our plant in Japan," said Mr. KRASNOFF in a telephone interview. "He believed that you can't look at everything, but, if you look very closely at some of the small things, you get a real picture of how the whole operation is managed and what the culture is. He would come at business from the high, and from the bottom up."
Short of stature, quiet of voice, large of intellect, Mr. APPEL was known as the force behind the Force - the formidable volunteer and social, artistic and political activist Bluma APPEL (obituary, July 17, 2007). Married for 67 years, they were a devoted and complementary couple. Mrs. APPEL once joked that her husband made the money and she spent it. In fact, he was a philanthropist and a supporter of cultural ventures in his own right.
Abraham (Bram) APPEL was born in Montreal in 1915, the fourth son and fifth child of Israel and Sophia (née HECHT) APPEL. The APPELs were from Silesia (most of which is now in Poland) and had immigrated to Montreal in the early years of the last century, probably after the 1905 pogrom. They brought their skills with them - he was a blacksmith, and she sold groceries. They raised their family on St. Urbain Street near Fairmont, now a fashionable part of Montreal but then a working-class and immigrant neighbourhood.
While his struggling father wanted his sons to get out of school and into the work force, Bram aspired to be a professional. With his persuasive tongue and logical mind, he might have made a fine lawyer, but he chose accountancy because it was a faster credential to acquire. He went to McGill in 1931 - when there was said to be a quota system requiring Jewish students to earn higher marks than Christians - held down three jobs (including setting pins in a bowling alley and working as a photographer's assistant), borrowed money and won a scholarship to finance his education. It was at McGill in 1933 that he met David PALL, an impoverished science student from rural Saskatchewan who would become his lifelong friend and business partner.
Mr. APPEL graduated near the top of his class with a bachelor of commerce degree in 1935 and earned his certification the following year to become one of the youngest chartered accountants in Quebec. Partly because he was a loner, partly because of anti-Semitism at the big firms, he opened his own office, Appel and Partners, a partnership that still bears his name.
That summer of 1936, David PALL lent him $35 to pay for a week at a Jewish summer resort in the Laurentians on what may well have been the vacation during which he met Bluma LEVITT, a dynamic young woman with a wry wit and a fervent passion for social justice. They married on July 11, 1940, and soon had two sons: David, who was born in 1941, and Mark, who followed three years later.
David PALL, meanwhile, had graduated with a PhD in physical chemistry from McGill in 1939 and had gone to New York - Mr. APPEL lent him money to buy some furniture for his apartment - to work on the top-secret Manhattan Project, doing research on the atomic bombs that were later dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the Second World War. Doctor PALL, who would eventually be the named inventor on more than 180 U.S. patents, liked to chat with Bram about the commercial possibilities for some of his discoveries.
Mr. APPEL knew very little about chemistry, but he was adept at drawing people out about things that mattered to them. During a visit to New York in June of 1944, he listened to Doctor PALL talk about his belief that industry, which was becoming increasingly complicated, would need specialized filters able to cope with high pressures, elevated temperatures and corrosive atmospheres. Dr. PALL thought he would need $15,000 and two years working in his spare time to develop a porous, stainless-steel filter that he felt would have wide industrial applications. Mr. APPEL, who by then was a married man with a wife and two small children, had scraped together $3,000. "Let's go," he said, according to a well-told story. He always liked to say he didn't invest in a company, he backed his friend.
"And that is where it all begins," said his son, David. "They were silent heroes. They didn't look for any kind of recognition, they didn't have to tell you what they were doing, or how well they did. They preferred to operate in the shadows and support others, and very often a lot of what happened came through them and others got the credit."
The company, which initially was called Micro-Metallic Corp., was established in August of 1944. At first, Doctor PALL worked in his garage in Queens and Mr. APPEL travelled to New York on the overnight train once a month to do the books. Like most start-ups, the tiny company had rough times - each potential customer had idiosyncratic needs, and the filters had to be custom-designed in the late 1940s, the bookkeeper mistakenly wrote cheques overdrawing their bank account by $7,000. Mr. APPEL staved off that crisis by borrowing money from an American friend of his brother-in-law.
In 1952, Doctor PALL persuaded his next-door neighbour, Abe KRASNOFF, a Certified Public Accountant with enviable marketing acumen and organizational skills, to join the corporation. (His son Eric, who joined the company in the mid-1970s, is now the chair and Chief Executive Officer.) The company, which changed its name to Pall Corp., began to pay back on Mr. APPEL's original investment by 1958. For the rest of his life, Mr. APPEL loved to boast that he had never sold any of his shares.
Mr. APPEL was not just a businessman. He turned a chance meeting with Jean-Luc Pepin when both were passengers on a ship crossing the Atlantic in August of 1951 into another deep Friendship and career opportunity. When Mr. Pepin was appointed minister of energy, mines and resources by Lester Pearson in 1965, he called Mr. APPEL in Montreal on a Friday evening and said, according to Mr. APPEL's recounting, "You are bored as a chartered accountant, you don't need the dough - come and be my executive assistant," adding: "If you are not here Monday morning, I will have had my answer."
Mr. APPEL and his wife were there by Sunday night, in a city they barely knew, in a milieu that was foreign to them. He worked with Mr. Pepin for two years, served as a business consultant to the National Film Board's Labyrinth project for Expo 67 in Montreal, spent a year as a consultant to Gérard Pelletier in 1970 when he was secretary of state for external affairs in Pierre Trudeau's cabinet, then worked a further two years as a consultant to Mr. Pepin when he was minister of industry and trade. Mr. APPEL retired from the bureaucracy after Mr. Pepin lost his seat in the 1972 election, but the two men then joined forces in Interimco, an export trading house.
In the mid-1970s, the APPELs moved to Toronto, where they both became active (she front and centre, and he in the background) in cultural, medical, political, social and commercial projects. As a venture capitalist, Mr. APPEL backed other high-tech start-ups over the years, including Electroline Equipment, a company that manufactures devices for the cable-television industry, Interprovincial Cablevision (now Laurential Cablevision), ENS Biologicals Inc., Sciemetric Inc., and Hi-G-Tek Inc. By now a serious multimillionaire, he established Canmont Investment Corp. to manage his venture capital and portfolio investments.
In 1998, he began donating close to $200,000 a year to the Bram Appel School-Based Project in North Bay for students from junior kindergarten through Grade 1. All the children were given snacks and lunch, and signed up for cultural and sports activities after school and in the summers. The project, which Mr. APPEL funded for five years, has since become a model for a province-wide program.
Mrs. APPEL was diagnosed with lung cancer in May and died on July 14. Mr. APPEL, who was 92 and suffering from short-term memory problems, consoled himself in the lives of his children and grandchildren. On September 24, he fell and broke his hip. He survived the operation, but he couldn't rally and declined rapidly over the next two weeks.
Abraham (Bram) APPEL was born in Montreal on January 13, 1915. He died in Toronto Western Hospital on October 11, 2007. He was 92. Predeceased by his wife, Bluma, and his four siblings, he is survived by his sons David and Mark, five grandchildren and his extended family.

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HECKADON o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-01-04 published
RUSSELL, Omer Solomon (May 15, 1907-December 27, 2006)
Passed away at Runnymede Healthcare Centre at the age of 99. Born in the heart of the Ottawa Valley in Delta, Ontario. He was the only son and had three older sisters, Estella, Ella and Jean, who adored him. His father and two uncles ran a variety of businesses. There was no high school in town, so Omer was sent to board in Brockville. Later he attended Queen's University and graduated in 1930 from electrical engineering (because he said it had 'more math'). Although it was the beginning of the depression, he found work with Ontario Hydro and he later joked that he had to start climbing poles, but he ultimately retired as a Vice President. Omer met his wife, Helen, at a garden party where she was the soloist. They married in 1933 and had three daughters, Camilla HECKADON (Bob,) Roberta HARRIS (Don) and Victoria, and 9 grand children: David, Peter, Bill, Louise, Barbara, Gordon, Lianne, Sharena and Zak, and 14 great-grandchildren. Omer had 'no pain and no pills' until he was into his mid-90's. He read two newspapers each day and delighted in discussing the latest news and business. After an impressive career with Hydro, he retired and began new interests which included making wine and bread. He and Helen were known for their open home and making everyone welcome. They hosted many parties and enjoyed their pool and backyard. They also traveled throughout the globe on numerous and interesting trips. Omer enjoyed walking and working around the home. He said each morning he did his exercises which he began when at Queen's. During the last four years he was cared for at Runnymede Healthcare by wonderful staff. Omer was a thoughtful, kind and terrific father who adored his family. He was wise, always found a good word to say about everyone and had a quiet but terrific sense of humour. We will miss him deeply and appreciate the time we did have with him. Funeral arrangements at the Turner and Porter Funeral Home, 2357 Bloor Street West, Toronto, on Sat. January 6; Visitation 2-3, followed by the funeral at 3 and then reception.

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HECTOR o@ca.on.simcoe_county.nottawasaga.stayner.stayner_sun 2007-06-27 published
HECTOR, Ryan Andrew (July 30, 1980-June 28, 1998)
Although you've been gone from this earth for quite a while, We'll always remember your kind, kind heart and your beautiful smile. Your physical challenges gave you some strife, But you were always so positive and kept your zest for life. The speeches you gave for charities and the piano you played, These memories of your talents will never ever fade. You strived so hard to be the best you could be, And you achieved great goals for all to see. Many still speak of your humour and charitable deeds, And your legacy at S.C.I. continues to spread its seed
In loving memory from Grace and Dianna HECTOR and Family (Creemore)
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