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"CKO" 2002 Obituary


CKOC o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2002-12-24 published
Beloved philanthropist left a rich legacy
Irving ZUCKER cared passionately about the arts
Order of Canada among many honours in life
Paul MORSE Torstar News Service
Irving ZUCKER is best known as Hamilton's most celebrated patron of the arts and learning.
But he was so much more.
An Order of Canada recipient, a Canada Council for the Arts member, World War 2 veteran, founder of a radio station and a successful entrepreneur -- Mr. ZUCKER was a something of a Renaissance man.
The long-time philanthropist died as a result of heart surgery at Toronto General Hospital Sunday morning. He was 82.
"He was a great friend. We worked on a lot of projects together and he will be sorely missed," said Heritage Minister Sheila COPPS, Member of Parliament for Hamilton East. "He had a finger in a lot of pies."
Even in retirement, Mr. ZUCKER was active on the Canada Council and was a citizenship court judge.
"He really, really cared about his Hamilton community, and his (Jewish) faith was really important to him," COPPS said.
Bernard BASKIN, rabbi emeritus of Hamilton's Temple Anshe Sholom, gave the eulogy at Mr. ZUCKER's funeral yesterday at Adas Israel Synagogue, attended by more than 300 people. Those in attendance included COPPS, former Ontario lieutenant-governor Lincoln ALEXANDER, local politicians and members of the arts community.
Outlining the many accomplishments of his late friend, BASKIN said that for Mr. ZUCKER, wealth was an instrument to be used for improving the world, not a deity to be worshipped.
"He was an outstanding philanthropist," BASKIN said in an interview. "I don't know anyone else who measures up to the depth and variety of his giving."
He believes Mr. ZUCKER's giving nature was a product of his early life. "He came from a modest background. He became successful early in life. Perhaps he felt he had to give something back."
Across Hamilton, grieving community leaders remembered a man who left a lasting legacy on the city's artistic life.
Larissa CIUPKA, communications officer with the Art Gallery of Hamilton, said Mr. ZUCKER defied description.
"He was larger than life and yet very approachable, friendly, happy to see you."
As a philanthropist, she said, he led by example. "It's one thing to get up on a soapbox and talk about it, it's another thing to actually do it. He was a doer."
"I'm devastated," said Theatre Aquarius artistic director Max REIMER.
"He was one of the first people I met when I came here. He took me out and talked the theatre and the city as if it was his. It was pretty exciting to think there was somebody like that here."
Mr. ZUCKER, or Zeke to his Friends, was born in Hamilton in 1920 and grew up in the city's north end, where his father was a watchmaker. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War 2 and trained aircrew in bombing and gunnery.
He became interested in broadcasting after the war, and founded CHIQ radio and later CHAM in Hamilton. He eventually assembled a network of radio stations in Ontario and eastern Canada. He bought CKOC/K-Lite FM in Hamilton and CJBK in London, Ontario, in 1993 and sold them three years ago.
In addition to his broadcasting interests, Mr. ZUCKER was president of Standard Industries Ltd. and Public Service Lighting Inc., and a director of Income Life Insurance Co.
During the 1960s, Mr. ZUCKER began to acquire paintings and sculptures. By the 1980s, he was concentrating on his art collection.
"He was always interested in upcoming and established artists," said Linda MacRAE, owner of Westdale Gallery and a long-time friend.
"He was always very much interested in abstract art and so he always wanted to be made aware of any new artist who'd come to my gallery," she said.
"He was like a kid in a candy store, actually."
In 1988, Mr. ZUCKER provided the funds for the restoration of the Blair Bruce painting collection at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. He donated works of art valued at $2.5 million to the gallery in 1991 and his $500,000 donation was instrumental in allowing Theatre Aquarius to proceed with the construction of its new theatre building.
In 1994, he donated seven sculptures that had adorned his own garden to the Art Gallery of Hamilton. The pieces are located in the Irving Zucker Sculpture Court on Commonwealth Square adjacent to the gallery.
Louise DOMPIERRE, Art Gallery of Hamilton president, said she will meet with Mr. ZUCKER's close Friends in the new year to plan a fitting tribute for him on behalf of the gallery.
"We're shocked and sorry about his passing. He was a true friend of the arts and the art gallery," she said. "He was a very generous contributor, not only to the art gallery but to the theatre and to individuals in the community. He will be missed enormously.
"He's leaving a big void."
Throughout his business career, Mr. ZUCKER supported various Jewish charities, as well as the United Way and fundraising for the Hamilton Place Auditorium.
In 1967, he founded the Irving Zucker Foundation, financed from his business ventures. The foundation established scholarships at McMaster University and has funded the Zucker lecture series at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Business.
In 1999, he endowed McMaster's faculty of health sciences with the Albert Einstein-Irving Zucker Chair in Neuroscience.
"This was a major gift he'd wanted to make to the university, which he had so much respect for," said Dr. Sandra WITELSON, who was named to the chair.
Mr. ZUCKER's $1 million donation was matched by the university.
In 1995, Mr. ZUCKER was inducted into the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction, which honours prominent citizens who have brought credit to the community.
The last time Hamilton Mayor Bob WADE saw Mr. ZUCKER was a couple of months ago. He simply wanted to remind the mayor he was available if help was needed.
"That's the kind of man he was. He wanted to be a part of anything where his contribution could be made," Wade said. "He'll be missed by the community. He has helped the city tremendously."
In 1983, he was appointed to the Economic Council of Canada for three years. Thirteen years later, Sheila COPPS appointed him to the board of the Canada Council for the Arts. He was reappointed in 1999 to serve another three years.
But Mr. ZUCKER was most proud of being named a member of the Order of Canada for his philanthropy by governor-general Romeo LEBLANC in 1997.
He was honoured in 1999 by the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation for his leadership and commitment to area hospitals.
Mr. ZUCKER didn't limit his generosity to the arts community, said former Hamilton councillor Geraldine COPPS. When she needed his help for Lakeland Pool, he gave generously.
"It wasn't something particularly close to his heart, but if it was good for the community, Mr. ZUCKER would be there."
Stan KEYES, the federal Liberal caucus chair and Hamilton West Member of Parliament, called Mr. ZUCKER a leader and a good friend.
"There will be a void, a huge void, until someone steps up to the plate, but I don't know if anyone will be able to step up and fill the void that Irving has left."
Four years ago, Mr. ZUCKER received an honorary doctor of laws degree from McMaster University.
President Peter GEORGE called Mr. ZUCKER a good friend to the university. "He reached out into so many activities in this community and all of Canada."
Mr. ZUCKER leaves his children Martin, David and Susan ZUCKER- RAKOFF, brother Bernard ZUCKER, sister Faye LEIBTAG and close companion Irene HALE. He had been divorced from his first wife for many years.
Hamilton Spectator

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