Abraham Jedidiah Rogatnick

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  • "When I attended the UBC School of Architecture as a youth..."
  • "He was one of the never to be forgotten great men."
    - Michael Sinclair
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ROGATNICK Abraham Jedidiah Abraham Jedidiah Rogatnick. Born 27 November 1923, Boston. Died 28 August 2009, Vancouver. Graduated 1952 from Harvard with two Degrees studying under Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus School. His studies were interrupted by service in the U.S. Army during World War II. He spent most of his time at the front lines where his facility with languages was in high demand. He was one of the few survivors of his unit during the Battle of the Bulge. After the war he traveled and studied in Europe where he developed a deep love for Venice. He learned Italian, became an internationally renowned scholar of Venice and was a much loved member of the cultural community there. This work connected him with such luminaries as Marshall McLuhan, Buckminster Fuller, Ezra Pound, Mazzariol and others. In 1955, he and lifelong partner Alvin Balkind were invited to visit Vancouver by Harvard classmate, architect and Alderman Geoff Massey where they were hosted by Arthur Erickson. They fell in love with Vancouver and became pillars of Vancouver's artistic community. Within weeks of arriving they opened Canada's first commercial modern art gallery and revolutionized the arts scene in Vancouver. They helped cofound the Arts Club Review introducing avant-garde artistic works to Vancouver. One legacy of this effort is the Arts Club Theatre. Perhaps Abraham's most profound contribution to Vancouver was as UBC Architecture Professor from 1958 to 1985 where he was much loved for treating his classes as theatrical multimedia events. The values, aesthetic sensibilities and love of learning that he inspired in his students have changed the face of the city. Students include such internationally noted architects as Bruno Freschi, Bing Thom, Peter Busby and Paul Merrick. He founded the Studies Abroad program sending students from Vancouver to study in great cities of the world. He received the 1975 Master Teacher Award and the 2008 Honourary Alumnus Award. He was architectural advisor for Canada's National Gallery in Ottawa, was the director of the Vancouver Art Gallery and contributed to Vancouver's design guidelines and policies. After retiring from UBC Abraham began a new career as an actor playing roles in a variety of movies and plays and creating set designs. In 1992 Alvin died and Abraham remained devoted to his memory till his dying day. Abraham was active in the politics of the city from supporting harm reduction drug policies, opposing the Ward system, electing Sam Sullivan as Mayor and advocating a renewal of the art gallery IN ITS CURRENT SITE. Several years ago Abraham was diagnosed with terminal cancer a fact which he kept from almost everyone. Abraham is survived by sister Roselyn, nephew Charles Olken and wife Therry of Alameda California, nephew Jonathan Olken and wife Linda of New York, and nephew Richard Olken and wife Victoria of Boston. Abraham Jedidiah Rogatnick leaves behind numerous arts organizations he liberally donated to, numerous students he taught and inspired, and a city whose course was changed by his deep love and passion for it. A memorial will be held in The Great Hall of the Law Courts, 800 Smithe Street on Sunday, October 25 at 2:00 pm. RSVP [email protected] or 778-938-1222. Contributions to a Viva Award in Abraham and Alvin's memory can be made to "Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation" PO Box 549 Station A, Vancouver, BC V6L 2N3.
Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province from Sept. 12 to Sept. 13, 2009
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