ZACK, Elisse Paula
March 16, 1952 - July 31, 2014
Passed peacefully at Bridgepoint Hospital in Toronto after a prolonged illness. Her final months were a lesson in courage and grace. Daughter of Lillian and the late Manuel Zack; sister to Deborah Zack-Wilner and Martin Zack, their spouses, Asher and Pamela, and children, Joshua, Daniel and Benjamin Wilner and Rachel Zack; niece to Gordon (Sheila) Zack, Irving (Sadie) Levy, Hy (Bea) Zack, Harry (Betty) Joseph; cousin to Marsha (Eric) Slavens, Richard (Sandra) Levy and Ira (Susan) Levy, Ron (Gayle) Zack, Carolin (Jerry) Michaels, Marla (Hal) and Larry Zack; cherished friend to Ross McKean, Mark Merryfield, Ann Irwin, Carol Wiggin, Kelly O'Brien, Richard Elliott, and Steve Tattle. Elisse devoted her life to community service. She earned a BA from Queen's, M.Ed from OISE (Adult Education), and M.Mgmt (Not-for- Profit Sector) from McGill. She began her career as coordinator of a program in northern Toronto to help integrate immigrant women into Canadian society. She later organized a provincial literacy coalition that provided language training to adults without access to it. In 1994 she began her work in the field of HIV and AIDS advocacy and community organization. As medications became available to help those afflicted with HIV or AIDS to live longer, Elisse turned her attention to addressing the opportunistic diseases that prevented full recovery. Management of tuberculosis in people with HIV and AIDS was her focus with the Canadian AIDS Society, where she helped to develop private and public sector services for people afflicted by episodic bouts of disability. In 1998 she founded what later grew into the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR), which she served as Executive Director until the end of 2013. CWGHR has been instrumental in coordinating efforts across Canada and internationally to educate, advocate and implement initiatives to address the many challenges faced by those living with HIV and AIDS. Although Elisse gave tirelessly to the people and causes she championed, she was also a very private person and therefore only shared the knowledge of her illness with very few people. Caritas - altruistic love - has been described as "the most excellent of the virtues". Elisse personified this spirit. We thank the nurses and doctors at Bridgepoint Active Healthcare for their tireless assistance and support. Those who wish may make a donation to: Princess Margaret Hospital (www.theprincessmargaret.ca), The Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (www.hivandrehab.ca/EN/get_involved/ donate.php), or to your preferred charity for HIV or AIDS via a member organization of the Canadian AIDS Society: (www.cdnaids.ca/ members). A Memorial Service will be held at 519 Church Street Community Centre in Toronto (East side of Church St., just north of Wellesley) on Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.
Published in National Post from Aug. 6 to Aug. 7, 2014