Sally Alban (nee Diamant) was born in the town of Tarnow, Poland on March 12th, 1921. Her mother was an Orthodox Jew, while her father, who for a time had studied the Torah, became an accomplished carpenter and an inventor. Sally was one of five children with two older brothers and two younger sisters. Her father was often away on business leaving her mother alone to raise the children.
At the age of 14, Sally ended her formal education to work in a clothing store. She loved fashion and wanted to help support her family and especially her beloved Mother. Two years later, while on a swimming outing, her beauty and blonde hair attracted the attention of Sam Alban. They became smitten with one another, after a few dates but events were to interfere in their courtship.
In the fall of 1939 after the German invasion, Sally left Poland joining her Father and Brother on a business trip to Russia. Meanwhile Sam had already fled Poland for Russia to get away from the Nazis. Sally and Sam ended up in Russian work camps thousands of miles apart. But thanks to Sam’s ingenuity they were reunited in his Gulag in Siberia where they married and remained until 1942.
Sally survived WW2 while most of her family perished. She and Sam spent three winters in the gulag in Siberia only to be thrown out by the Russians and left to fend for themselves when the Germans invaded Russia in the summer of 1942. Sally and Sam decided to head back West arriving in Stallingrad just when the Germans launched their attack. Sally convinced Sam that they should head South, and they caught the last boat out headed for Kazakhstan and eventually to Alma ATA where they eked out a living until the War ended. Here her first child, Henry, was born.
As soon as the war ended, Sam and Sally made their way to Hamburg with a goal, to emigrate to North America. One day while walking with Henry, Sally saw an ad stating that Canada wanted skilled workers, including tailors. She immediately stood in line and got an application. Before long Sam and Sally were in Montreal. Arriving in early March, Sally was reminded too much of the cold Siberian winters. So, upon hearing that it was greener and warmer in Toronto in March, she insisted they go there.
On arriving in Toronto, neither Sam nor Sally spoke English, but Sam managed to get a job as a tailor. Sally’s plans to find work were delayed when she learned she was pregnant with her second child, Evie. The family grew and began building a new life in Toronto. When Gloria was born in 1954 the family was complete.
Once in Toronto, Sally made the shift from being a “survivor “ in life to being a “liver” of life, as she fully embraced the many new opportunities that life in postwar Toronto offered. Sally was not one to be defeated. She was resourceful, determined and strong.
Sally learned to speak English, got her high school diploma, learned to drive and overcame her fear of water, eventually taking swimming and diving lessons at the age of 50.
She and Sam travelled to New York, Florida, California and Arizona. She also visited Hungary and Israel.
Sally was a loving, nurturing mother. She selflessly sacrificed all for her children. Thanks to their parenting, Sally and Sam’s children were all university educated, two as dentists and one a school principal.
When Sam became ill some time ago, Sally was constantly and lovingly by his side. She kept him comfortable and well cared for during many years both at home and then in nursing homes until his passing in 2002.
Sally was matriarch to a large extended family. Family always came first to her. She loved Henry’s wife, Ellen, Gloria’s husband, Joel and Evie’s partner Dan. She doted on all her grandchildren and truly adored them all – Dayna and her husband Tor, Liam and his wife Alyssa, Linda and her husband Neil, Lenny and his wife Lauren, Rosalyn, Stacey and her fiance Mike. The great-grandchildren have brought her great joy and nachis in recent years – Ethan, Isaac, Nathan, Lilah, Alice and Jordan.
Gloria, her youngest daughter, has been Sally’s main caregiver these past several years. Her love and attention have truly prolonged Sally’s life. We are all deeply indebted to Gloria for keeping Sally safe and happy over the years.
At Baycrest, Sally received excellent care from so very many of the staff. During her time there she uncovered her artistic talents, painting beautiful ceramics and pictures thanks to the support of the volunteers in the Arts Studio. Sally, a wonderful cook, even got used to the food at Baycrest. Special thanks to her recent caregiver Glenda and friend Risa. You both brought much sunshine into Sally’s life; Glenda particularly made a big difference in her final months since Covid restrictions were enforced keeping her company, giving her massages and playing cards.
Sally has lived a long and rich life. And yet, at the age of 99 it is still difficult to say goodbye to this remarkable, bright individual. With her strength, determination, kindness and generous spirit, Sally Alban has left a big footprint and has truly made the world a better place.
We all miss you Mom!
Memorial donations can be made to the Baycrest Foundation, 416-785-2500
The Funeral service will be live-streamed. Please go to smclive.ca