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James KAY

James KAY In Memoriam
JAMES FREDERICK KAY (Jimmy) An extraordinary gentleman and an outstanding human being. Remembered always and loved forever. Jimmy will always be regarded as one of Canada's most generous philanthropists and a wise and trusted community leader. He will be remembered as a co-founder of the retail conglomerate Dylex, whose cheeky name - an acronym for "damn your lousy excuses" - had been earlier used by the retail maven for one of his holding companies. Jimmy was known for his business savvy as well as his "jovial" nature, said Paul Godfrey, "He was very disarming, with his great smile and his great laugh... he was a people magnet. People were attracted to him because of his personality, his wit, his charm, and his great business acumen." Jimmy was enrolled at the University of Manitoba and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce and Finance and an Honours in Economics. After the war, Jimmy spent a few years in the industrial textile field He sold his Winnipeg based company "Mastex" which had discovered polyethylene film to CIL. Mr. Godfrey met Jimmy in 1962 while working at CIL in Brampton, ON, where 'JFK' was his first boss after graduating university. "Jimmy Kay was one of the people looked up to and respected, and often called for advice," he said. In 1963, Jimmy married Elaine Cynthia Cheslow. He was a wonderful and devoted husband and caring father for his four children, Wendy, Allison, Melanie and Sean. Prior to entering business, he had a storied military career beginning at age 18 when he enlisted with the Canadian Forces in 1939. He became a captain and saw active service in Britain and northwest Europe, receiving multiple medals for service. He served as captain of the 36 Canadian Army Troops Composite Company in Holland in 1946 before returning to Canada. His troops wrote a note in calligraphy which said " a small token of appreciation to the "old man" an officer, a gentleman and a regular guy." In his entrepreneurial prime, while maintaining a hectic work schedule, Jimmy always made time for the causes close to his heart. He served a number of Jewish community organizations including the Jewish National Fund of Canada, the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, The Canadian Council for Christians and Jews, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Jimmy thrived in his role as national president of the Canadian Society of the Weizmann Institute. In 1972, he established the Fanny and Samuel Kay Research Fellowship in honor of his parents and, in that same year, accompanied Lester B. Pearson on a trip to Israel to establish the Chair in Protein Sciences at the Weizmann Institute. He also accompanied John Diefenbaker to Israel for the official dedication of the John G. Diefenbaker Parkway in Canada Park. For his leadership in establishing an energy centre at the Weizmann Institute, Jimmy received an honorary doctorate. James Frederick Kay will always be fondly remembered for the huge contribution he made to many charitable causes. He not only gave money; he gave of himself. In addition to the many Israeli causes he supported he was very active in his community. He worked hard to create harmony between the many different faiths that make up Canada. Jimmy passed away from heart failure at his home in Palm Beach, Florida on December 8, 2013. From Abe Fish, "I truly respected Jim Kay. I am grateful that he came into my life: As so many others have said, 'I miss him very much'" Elaine C. Kay
Published in The Globe and Mail from Oct. 10 to Oct. 14, 2019
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