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Morely Blankstein, z'l, was one of the co-founders of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. As he was quoted in the Foundation's 2013 Report: "There was absolutely a need then [in 1964] to launch a Jewish Foundation and it has proven itself over time.Our community is changing and the needs are growing tremendously." As he added, "We have needs now with childcare and subsidizing newcomers so they can benefit from the community's programs and services, and more. The Foundation helps to meet those needs." Morley served as Vice President of the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council, chairing the Combined Jewish Appeal in 1978 and 1979. He also served as the YMHA Jewish Community Centre. Morley served on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, the Rose & Max Rady Jewish Community Centre, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, and The Sharon Home. He was President of the Technion's Winnipeg Chapter.He was the Negev Gala Honouree in 1980. He and Marjorie were the 2014 Ben-Gurion University Gala Honourees.Morley served as President of the Glendale golf and Country Club, President of the Manitoba Theatre Centre. He chaired the Age Opportunity Centre Inc. Living Arrangements Committee, served on the Board of the Canadian Design Council and was a member of Council for the Community Planning Association of Canada.
Photo by Keith Levit

Morley was born in Winnipeg, on March 30, 1924, the son of Max Zev and Lena (Laika Goldin) Blankstein. Both Max and Lena were born in Odessa; Max in 1877 and Lena in 1892. Max came to Canada in 1904. His first wife, Esther Goldin, and two children, Verna and Wolfe, followed shortly after. Esther passed away in 1906. Max then married Esther's sister Lena in 1907. They had five children together - Cecil, Eva (Dolgin), Evelyn, Fred and Morley. Lena tended their home while Max supported the family with a successful career as a prominent architect. Both were actively involved in many Jewish and Zionist organizations. Max was Western Canada's, and possibly Canada's, first Jewish architect. He was a member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and designed (among many others) the Uptown Theatre on Academy Road and the Zimmerman Building at 669 Main Street. He had his office in the family home and Morley fondly remembered opportunities to visit construction sites with his father. Morley attended Champlain, Machray, and St. John's Tech High School. He took pre-architecture courses at the University of Manitoba from 1941 to 1942, and then joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. He trained as a pilot (see photo above) and was placed on the R.C.A.F. reserve in 1945

Morley gained architectural renown for the design of Green Blankstein Russell's office at 222 Osborne St. N., and Winnipeg’s new General Post Office. Morley, along with Isadore Coop, designed the firm’s entry for the National Art Gallery competition in Ottawa. The entry resulted in First Prize. In 1955, Morley started his own practice and the firm eventually became known as “Number Ten Architectural Group.” The firm won numerous design awards including First Prize for the Mendel Art Gallery and Conservatory in Saskatoon, Second Award in the Alcan Architectural Competition and Honourable Mention for the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. In 1962 they won a National Design Award from The Canadian Housing Design Council. Some of the major projects with which Morley was involved as partner-in-charge of design and production include: The Zambia Institute of Technology in Kitwe, Zambia; the City of Winnipeg Transit Garage, Office & Maintenance Complex; Lions Manor Senior Citizen Residence Complex; Air Canada Maintenance Hangars and Stores; Sharon Home of Winnipeg; Peguis Pavilion in Kildonan Park; Pilot Training Building for the Canadian Forces Base in Portage-la-Prairie, and renovations and additions to the St. Amant Centre. Morley was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in 1966 and elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1975. Morley married Marjorie Rady in 1952 at the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue (see above photo).

Morley is survived by his wife, Marjorie (Rady), of almost 63 years; children - Carol and Barry McArton, Dan Blankstein and Sara Israels, Linda Blankstein and Mesut Senoglu, Leo and Mary Blankstein, and Max Blankstein; grandchildren - Ian and Stephanie, Sydney and Graham, Anna, Ben, Leah, Jack and Deniz; and his brother Dr. Fred Blankstein of California. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. The above photo is of Morley and Marjorie on their 50th Wedding Anniversary. As Arthur Blankstein said of Morely: "My Uncle Morley was truly a mensch – he gave of himself both in kind and monetarily. There are many testimonials to that effect. What is known within our family, is his love of family be it immediate – his children and his grandchildren or that of his extended family be it Blankstein or Golden. He was supportive of all our endeavors with no strings attached. He was always there as counsel.He was a very caring individual."

Gan Yavne dedication of the Rehov Morley Blankstein; L to R Marjorie, Morley, Gan Yavne Mayor Moshe Elkesslesy

June 2002 - Marjorie & Morley with grandchildren, L to R: Anna, Sydney, Leah, Deniz, Ian, Ben, Jack

Morley Blankstein,Pillar of the Community Passes Away

by Rhonda Spivak, June 29, 2015





[Editor's note: Below is the full eulogy delivered by Linda Blankstein at her father Morely's funeral at Shaarey Zedek synagogue on June 19.If desired, contributions in morely's memory may be made to the Morely Blankstein Lectureship Fund at the Technion in Israel (Canadian office telephone number 1-800-935-8864 FREE, Canadian Friends of Ben Gurion University of the Negev Cyber Security Research Centre (204-942-7347) or the Evelyn Blankstein Athletic Assistance Fund at the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, or a charity of your choice.]


On behalf of our family, I would like to thank you all for coming. It means a great deal to our family to have you here.


Our Dad lived to be 91 years old, he lived a very active and full life, and passed away far too soon! It is a testament to my parents' life teachings that their five children could agree on this eulogy.


Dad was humble, talented, driven, curious, demanding, knowledgeable, supportive, generous, impatient, and a loving family man. He was direct and forthright; you always knew how he felt about things that were important to him.


To him, family was everything. He was born into a large and close family; as the baby he benefited from his elder brothers’ and sisters’ guidance and support. He often spoke about, as a young child, playing under the drafting table of his architect father, Max, who passed away when my father was only five years old. It was in this way that Morley’s passion for architecture began.


As a young man he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, trained to be a pilot and was waiting to be sent to the continent for active duty when fortunately for him and us the war in Europe ended before he was sent into combat. From his flight training, he realized that perhaps flying wasn’t his best career choice after a making a rather harrowing downwind landing!


Following his military service, he continued his study of Architecture, earning his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Manitoba, and then his Master’s degree in Chicago under famed architect and teacher, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. His time at the Illinois Institute of Technology was a life changing experience that shaped his professional perspective – and ours!


You could say that our Dad was an artist constrained only by logic, mathematics, cement, glass, steel and, of course… the clients... Every project was seen as a challenge and provided opportunities to learn about the ways people lived and worked in space and time. Architecture was for him form and structure, but also about how people's lives could and should benefit from good design. Those close to Dad knew him as a critic of current architectural trends and he found few buildings that met his exacting standards.


After returning to Winnipeg he worked for his brother Cecil’s architectural firm Green Blankstein and Russell (the predecessor of GBR), before founding his own firm with Issie Coop, which became Blankstein, Coop, Gillmor & Hanna, and which in turn would go on to become Number 10 Architectural Group. In addition to his many commercial design projects, Dad also designed homes and cottages for friends and family. One could say that the spirit of Morley lives on in the design solutions and details of these projects. We find great comfort in that thought.


He and our mother, Marjorie, were married 63 years ago. There marriage was a true partnership of equals, in which he recognized her intellect, her commitment and her drive. They supported each other in their chosen careers. Together they engaged in service to the community, giving generously of their time and expertise for more than sixty years.


Dad had a strong sense of community and did not hesitate to lend a hand for causes he believed in. He was a stalwart supporter of the State of Israel and related causes – which led him to be in Israel almost yearly until very recently.  One of Dad’s last big contributions was to a joint Canada/Israel renewal project in the Israeli town of Gan Yavne. Should you find yourself there, be sure to look for Morley Blankstein Way, a street named after him!


His involvements included the boards of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the YMHA, Glendale Golf and Country Club, Technion Canada and many others too numerous to mention.


You could always count on Dad. If he said he was going to do something he did it, no questions asked. Nieces and nephews came for advice and moral support and were always warmly received. As his older siblings passed away, he became the family patriarch (with my mother’s fully committed support, of course). They believed in the importance of family and staying connected, traveling to as many events as they could and to celebrate every birth, bar or bat mitzvah and wedding – and there have been many.


For the five of us, he was simply our Dad. With all his work and community commitments you might think he would have had little time for his family, but it was quite the opposite. One childhood memory that we all share is waiting at our cottage in Gimli on Friday summer evenings for the sound of his station wagon pulling into the parking area. At the sound of the horn, we would run out to hug and kiss him. Getting out of the car he would greet us with a paper bag filled with freshly baked bagels and rye bread, still warm. He would then change into his swimsuit and we would head to the lake for a quick swim before dinner.


As many of you likely know, Dad was a very avid golfer since he was a young man and enjoyed playing in many Charity golf tournaments and friendly competitions such as the club championship. For a number of years he played in the Thursday Night Men’s’ League at Glendale until he retired from competition at the age of 88, competing with golfers up to 65 years his junior! He even won the league at the age of 80 while partnered with Dan. In his last year in the league, he commented that the young guys were so amazing because they hit the ball so far. Leo replied to him: “you are the amazing one! Every person in the league is in awe of you. You are 88 years old and competing against them! Maybe if you had a better partner….”


He never stopped trying to improve his game and was known for trying the latest tip from the Golf Channel. He recently said that he had finally figured out how to chip following a lesson this past winter from his 93-year-old brother Fred. In recent years, Dad said that he wasn’t crazy about playing with his contemporaries because they didn’t take the game seriously enough, conceding too many putts and not keeping score.


Inclement weather did not deter him – a hard rain was only a “scotch mist”. Six weeks ago, just a few days before he was diagnosed with pneumonia, Dad played his last nine holes on a day when few others ventured out, even playing 3 balls – a testament to his dedication to the game! When asked by the doctor in Emergency to describe how he was, Morley began by saying “Well, I like to play golf…”


Dad started skiing – another sport that he loved – at the age of 40 and shared this new interest with his children. We have many fond memories of family ski trips to the now defunct Mount Agassiz; not to mention a few not so great memories of white knuckle drives navigating by the side windows of the car. Skiing led to other family trips to resorts such as Sugar Hills in Minnesota and Whistler in BC. His last ski trip was at the age of 82 when he and an old friend went to Sunshine Village near Banff, Alberta.


What ever we did, wherever we were, our Dad supported us. We each have our personal memories of his visits to places where we were working, living or studying and he was always game to try new things. While visiting Carol when she was living in Israel many years ago, he went snorkeling while she scuba dived and was excited when he saw a shark before Carol did! On a very recent trip to Maui, Dad went whale watching, took a helicopter ride and swam in the Pacific Ocean. He never stopped!


There are so many more stories that we could share but I think he would just tell us to hurry up and get on with it. He was not a fan of lengthy eulogies…


This past Tuesday, while in hospital, Dad was settling down for the night and said to the health care aide: “You can turn out the lights now” and he was gone seconds later…


Dad we love you and we will miss you always….

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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