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Larry Hurtig. photo courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg



By Rhonda Spivak with reprint of article by Evelyn Hecht

When Larry Hurtig passed away recenttly, this community lost a “quiet giant”, a true mensch.

When  I spoke with Larry's wife Roberta , she recalled the words that Larry lived by and which captured the  very essence of his life. They were words that Larry used in the speech he delivered the night he was honoured at the Negev Gala of the Jewish National Fund in 2008.  They are the powerful and timeless words  of Winston Churchill who said:
You make a living from what you get. You make a life from what you give.”
Larry did exactly that—he  made a life from what he gave and our community is stronger for it.

As Larry’s son Jack said in his a eulogy about his father, “Dad, thank you for all the gifts you’ve left us, for teaching us to appreciate and enjoy life to the fullest and for teaching us that all of life’s challenges can be overcome.”

Larry's daughter Renee told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that  when her father was honoured by the Jewish National Fund  in Winnipeg in 2008, "My dad chose to support the construction of a play area and green space with a petting zoo at the Shefachim School in northern Israel, a special needs school for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A very appropriate choice given that my dad had spent the better part of his life working for the betterment of people living with disabilities." 

The numerous gifts that Larry  Hurtig left to our community are beautifully outlined in an article written by Evelyn Hecht which was used in the Negev Gala Program book in 2008.
The article is being reprinted below, as it a true testament to the enduring legacy of Larry Hurtig-a man who made a life from what he gave.


By Evelyn Hecht

LARRY HURTIG has been called a ‘quiet giant’. In his calm and soft mannered way, he exemplifies the community leader who continues to inspire us by his countless accomplishments as a professional, as a volunteer and as a mentsch.

What inspired this resilient, forward-thinking man with an unwavering commitment to improving the quality of life for others? The answer can be found in his upbringing. 

Born in Winnipeg, Larry Hurtig spent most of his formative years in Thunder Bay, where he was the only Jewish student in his class. He was active in sports and was an ‘A’ student. The anti-semitism he felt growing up—he recalls fighting to defend himself—was the seed that eventually grew into a commitment to working towards a strong Jewish community.

In the fall of 1952, he contracted polio. After an extensive stay at Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg, Larry returned home where both he and his mother were determined that he would learn to walk again. This entailed great effort and perseverance—life lessons he learned well.

He returned to Winnipeg to pursue his studies and in 1962 earned his Chartered Accountant’s degree from the University of Manitoba, Larry was in public practice for 20 years. 

In 1981, he served as President of the Estate Planning Council of Manitoba. That same year he left public practice and joined The Imperial Group of Companies. In 1986, he co-founded Chartered Financial Services Inc. and in 1991, A.S.H. Management Group Inc. He received the FCA designation in 2002 from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba in recognition of his outstanding services to the community. In addition, he received the Community Service Award from the Institute in 2006.

The project will be located in the upper Galilee region of Israel and will provide recreation facilities and a play park at a school for children suffering from developmental and intellectual disorders.

Larry’s connection to the intellectually challenged began early on. He served on the Board of DASCH (Direct Action Support of Community Homes), was the founding President of Versatech Charitable Foundation, and Treasurer of Versatech Industries Inc., one of the largest workshops for the intellectually challenged.

Larry is quick to point out the pivotal role his wife Roberta has played in all of his accomplishments. They married in 1963 and have three children, Bradley, Jack and Renee. When their son Bradley was diagnosed with autism, their lives changed. Larry and Roberta joined with five other families in founding Shalom Residences, an organization that now runs group homes and apartments for the intellectually challenged. Since 1983 Larry has served as founding President of the Shalom Residences Foundation, which provides for the future viability for the organization. Shalom Residences was the first group-home to be funded by the Manitoba Marathon.
His motivation for the groundbreaking work in support for the intellectually challenged was the need to improve the quality of life for those who cannot advocate for themselves. His commitment to their secure future remains steadfast to this day.
Larry’s dedication to the Jewish Community spans over four decades. He began as a Co-Chair of the Talmud Torah/JWC Lotteries Casino fundraisers and has never looked back. He has served on the Boards of Jewish Child and Family Services, Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, United Israel Appeals Federation of Canada, and is a canvasser for the local Federation annual campaign. 

Larry assumed the Presidency of the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council in 1996, during the difficult planning and fundraising years prior to the opening of the Asper Jewish Community Campus. His coalition-building style of leadership proved to be very valuable once again. Following on that success, eh served as President of the Asper Campus Board from 2001 to 2005. Recognizing the need to retire the debt, provide an endowment fund for the future, as well as improve Campus facilities, he agreed to Co-Chair the Campus’ Building on Success Capital Campaign. In leading by example, Larry was able to bring people on side with contributed greatly to the success of the campaign, which has exceeded its goal.

Larry was awarded the Sol Kanee Distinguished Community Service Medal in 19999 and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003. Always willing to give back to his community, he recently chaired the organizing committee for the ‘Jews in Thunder Bay’ permanent exhibit for the Jewish Heritage Centre and helped organize the endowment fund for the Thunder Bay Jewry at the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. 

Larry is immensely proud of his role in spearheading the immigration f Argentinean families to our community. In 1995, as Vice President of the WJCC, he travelled to Buenos Aires with a representative of the Manitoba government to investigate the possibility of attracting Jewish immigrants to Winnipeg. This caring commitment became a family affair as both eh and Roberta were very involved in assisting so many of the newcomers upon their arrival. 

Larry has had to overcome many physical challenges recently. Diagnosed with Post-Polio syndrome, and various cancers, he became active with Post-Polio Network of Manitoba and the fundraising committee for Cancer Care Manitoba Foundation Prostrate Cancer Dinner. As he copes with the limitations of his physical disability, he has become acutely aware of the challenges that face people with physical disabilities. He now sits on the Advisory Committee for the Canadian Centre for Disability Studies dealing with Accessibility, Visitabilty and Aging with Disability.

He credits his wife and family for helping him adjust to new developments and retain his optimism. He and Roberta are proud grandparents of Bailey, Noah and Sarah. Now semi-retired, he still goes into the office every day and is active in community work.

As the JNF Negev Gala honouree, Larry has chosen a project in Israel dealing with children with disabilities. The project will be located in the upper Galilee region of Israel and will provide recreation facilities and a play park at a school for children suffering from developmental and intellectual disorders.
Once again his commitment to improving the quality of life for others is paramount. Larry Hurtig is an inspiration to us all.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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