SYPHER email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2005-01-28 published
Fraser ELLIOT/ELLIOTT, Lawyer: 1921-2005
Co-founder of the Toronto law firm Stikeman Elliott saw the practice as an institution rather than a business, writes Sandra MARTIN. It has since become a model for law offices across the country
By Sandra MARTIN, Friday, January 28, 2005 - Page S7
A lawyer, businessman, art collector and philanthropist who loved to fish and play golf, Fraser ELLIOT/ELLIOTT was a decisive man who listened deeply and spoke briefly. "We always used to say that if he was giving a speech, it wouldn't go longer than 2.5 minutes," said Olympian Richard Pound, a lawyer with the Montreal office of Stikeman ELLIOT/ELLIOTT, the firm Mr. ELLIOT/ELLIOTT co-founded more than 50 years ago.
"When he and Heward [ STIKEMAN] set up the firm, Fraser was the businessman and Heward was the visionary," said Edward WAITZER, current chair of the firm that now has offices in nine cities around the world and more than 400 lawyers. "There was no question who was running the firm, but they were incredibly compatible," said Mr. WAITZER. " They were partners who never had a disagreement."
Although he had stepped down as chair about 20 years ago, Mr. ELLIOT/ELLIOTT continued to go to the office every day until about two weeks ago. "He was the kind of guy that most of the secretaries around here would probably go and talk to if there was a problem before they'd talk to me," said Mr. WAITZER. " There isn't a day that goes by without somebody saying, 'What would Fraser think?' He was the heart and soul of this law firm. He had a huge influence because his footprint was just so deep."
R. Fraser ELLIOT/ELLIOTT was born in 1921, the son of Colin Fraser ELLIOT/ELLIOTT, a federal deputy minister, and Mary Marjorie (SYPHER.) He went to Queen's University, graduating with a commerce degree in 1943 before going to Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He articled under Henry BORDEN, senior partner at Borden, Elliot, Kelley, Palmer and Sankey, and was called to the Ontario bar in 1946. He then went to the Harvard School of Business Administration, graduating with an M.B.A. in 1947.
Heward STIKEMAN, meanwhile, had begun his career in what is now called the Canada Revenue Agency under the mentorship of Mr. ELLIOT/ELLIOTT's father, a career civil servant and one-time ambassador to Chile. After reaching the level of assistant deputy minister in 1945, Mr. STIKEMAN went into private practice with the small Montreal firm of Foster, Hannen and Watt, which added the name Stikeman in recognition of his presence.
Fraser ELLIOT/ELLIOTT, the son of Mr. STIKEMAN's former boss at Revenue Canada, was called to the Quebec bar in 1948. He then joined Mr. STIKEMAN's law firm, which consequently added his name to what was now a rather long list of partners. Over a beer at Mr. STIKEMAN's house in Montreal late in 1951, the two men drew up a financial blueprint for their own firm.
Within months, they had struck out on their own. Mr. STIKEMAN was the dreamer and Mr. ELLIOT/ELLIOTT the pragmatic businessman. "He was a Harvard M.B.A., so he understood about business and the needs of business clients," said Mr. Pound, a long-serving member of the International Olympic Committee and author of a corporate history of the firm published to commemorate its 50th anniversary.
"The combination of his business acumen and Heward STIKEMAN's cachet, which brought in clients, for which Fraser ELLIOT/ELLIOTT then provided the business and corporate advice, forced all other law firms in Canada to respond to their model, rather than the other way around," said Mr. Pound.
From two lawyers in a tax boutique on St. James Street, the firm now is one of the most successful tax and corporate law firms in Canadian history. "Law firms are pretty simple," said Mr. WAITZER. " Basically, you try to attract the best possible people and the best possible clients and you invest heavily in both." The culture that Mr. ELLIOT/ELLIOTT inculcated was one that saw the firm as an institution rather than a business, by investing in people, clients and relationships for the longer term rather than maximizing annual income.
Part of that long-range view, said Mr. Pound, was succession planning. "Over time, they [Mr. ELLIOT/ELLIOTT and Mr. STIKEMAN, who died in 1999] were both very careful to ensure that there was an orderly transition."
Mr. ELLIOT/ELLIOTT's profession was the law, but he made most of his money as a businessman, becoming an early and major shareholder in CAE (a landmark high-tech Canadian company specializing in simulation and modelling technologies). He also owned a number of other business interests. Although he was a judicious businessman, he was also a passionate art collector, amassing a huge collection of Canadian and international art that museums would "die to have," according to Mr. Pound.
In recent years, he was also a very generous benefactor, establishing the Fraser Elliott Foundation in 1985, which has given quietly to a spectrum of causes that included the arts, universities and hospitals. He was also active on several boards, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian Opera Company and Toronto General Hospital, and endowed two chairs (in vascular surgery and transplantation research) at the Toronto General and Western Foundation.
"What was wonderful about him as a donor was that he asked really good questions," said Wendy McDOWAL, chief fundraiser at the Canadian Olympic Committee. Before giving $10-million to the capital campaign for the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, he quizzed Ms. McDOWAL about the fundraising campaign. "He had a very keen mind and he wanted to understand the project and the details of the project," said Ms. McDOWAL, adding that he was a no-nonsense person who didn't suffer fools. "But once he had made his gift," she said, "he never second-guessed or went back on his decision."
As a father, he was "a straightforward, honest individual who honoured his family values and was loved by us all," said his eldest son, Fraser ELLIOT/ELLIOTT, an investment banker.
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SYPULSKI firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.toronto_star 2005-03-11 published
SYPULSKI, William " Bill"
Peacefully on March 8, 2005, at Leisureworld, Creemore, Ontario. Dear brother of Frank (Barrie), Robert and his wife Noreen (Winnipeg), Shirley and her husband Harry (Mississauga) and sister-in-law Mary (Toronto). He will be sadly missed by several nieces and nephews. Predeceased by parents Hank and Lillian, brother Edward and nephew Tom GARROD. Memorial service will be held at a future date. Memorial donations may be made to the Toronto Humane Society. "Alone but never quite alone."
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