Much to be said of a life of almost 102 years. Growing up in a small village that felt the influence of many different governments. Family that included rabbis and farmers. A deep attachment to his immediate family. Pride in his attention to detail.
At the age of 9 or 10, Alex already exhibited the traits that would define his life.
He would often lead his entire school in lessons, teaching everyone from the five-year-olds to teenagers, as the adult teacher was “indisposed“.
He was very sharp, very smart.
The school was so far away, he fashioned a skate out of a wooden branch and used it all winter to skate his way over the ice to school.
Alex was mechanically inclined, repairing all sorts of equipment and machinery. Comfortable with gears and engines, he had his own bicycle repair shop when very young. He understood how things worked and how they fit together. Alex would have excelled at higher education, possibly fulfilling his dream of becoming a doctor. But the War put a stop to that.
Instead, his youth was spent in camps, under punishing circumstances.
When he finally returned to his small village, there was not much left. But he found a connection with a young woman he knew from a nearby village, and they married in 1949.
Within days of their wedding, he had to leave the country and leave his new wife Edith behind.
Edith was granted entry to the United States, but by very auspicious circumstances Alex ended up in Canada.
Upon landing in Nova Scotia, he was given a warm blanket, $200, and sent up North to be a lumberjack in Kapuskasing. Restless to begin work more suited to his skills, he made his way to Toronto where he reunited with Edith.
One of his first jobs was at Massey Ferguson, where he operated a machine that made one specific part. Every day when he arrived at work, rather than start production, he would spend the first two hours cleaning and oiling and inspecting that machine, still always surpassing his quota. He believed preparing a solid foundation was key to the best outcome.
After that job plus many others, he found success partnering with a fellow countryman and creating a steel company.
They would salvage large equipment, repair and tune these machines, and rent them out. Soon, rather than being middlemen, they began to manufacture their own steel.
Steel construction became their main focus, creating jobs for many in their factory in Mississauga.
Even when Alex retired, he invested in commercial sites in the West End, giving home to young manufacturing companies that stayed with him for years.
Alex loved to drive. He always said he felt young behind the wheel. He drove until he was 100. When taking the mandatory written driving test at the age of 96, he was the first one finished, got every question right, and was given a standing ovation by all the other participants.
His focus and determination could also be seen as stubbornness. Once he had something in his mind, there was pretty much no way of changing it.
Coming to Canada with nothing, with every obstacle in this way, he created a safe and blessed life for future generations.
He had great love and pride for his grandchildren, their spouses, and his great grandchildren.
His coffee table was always laden with boxes of chocolates and cookies and snacks for all the kids of every age.
He was generous, intelligent, business-savvy, and surprisingly funny.
He honoured the memory of his family and friends, always remembering those who helped him in times of need. He tried to do the same for others as well.
People who met Alex would often remark on what a gentleman he was, how kind and proud.
In the end, he led a quiet life and left a deep impact on those close to him.
His insight and love will be deeply missed.
Memorial donations may be made to Mazon Canada (https://www.mazoncanada.ca/), or to your local food bank.