JOHN LOUIS NICHOLAS BITOVE
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JOHN LOUIS NICHOLAS BITOVE, CM "Where there is Love, there is Life." --Gandhi John Bitove, Sr. (JB) passed away peacefully on July 30, 2015, with his loved ones by his side. It was a fitting end to a man who lived 87 years for his family, friends, heritage and country. He leaves behind a legacy of love, caring, passion and success, impacting so many people around the world. Husband and partner, in the truest sense of the word, to his loving wife of 66 years Dotsa. Father, mentor and inspiration to their five children -- Vonna, Nick (Della), Tom (Karen), John (Randi) and Jordan (Nicole) and loving Dedo to their sixteen grandchildren -- John, Sasho, Jenna, Gabriel, Natalie, Nicolas, JJ, Katarina, Jacob, Brett, Emma, Blair, Brodey, Cameron, Chloe and Ivy. Predeceased by his brother James and his beloved sister Milca (Novak). John Bitove Sr. was born on March 19, 1928 to Macedonian immigrant parents in Toronto's East End. At a very young age, he learned from his parents Nickola and Vana Bitove the importance of family and of giving back to his community. Whether it was a neighbourhood project or one of global implications, he never shied away from what he believed was his calling in life -- helping others less fortunate than him and protecting human rights. He lived his life proving that it was better to give than to receive. While holding down three jobs as a young boy, he managed to find time to be a star athlete in multiple sports. Hockey was his passion and at the age of 12 he founded, coached and played on the Toronto Young Leafs hockey team, a group of "Cabbagetown" kids. With big dreams, he approached Maple Leaf Gardens about the possibility of his team using the hallowed building for their home games. They agreed. The Toronto Young Leafs went on to win City and Provincial Championships. A number of his teammates would later play in the NHL and win Stanley Cups. In 1946 he was offered a tryout with the Detroit Red Wings. As times were tough, he chose to stay in Toronto and help with his father's butcher shop, located on Queen Street East. At the age of 18, he would meet the love of his life, Dotsa Lazoff, at a Macedonian convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. Three years later they were married and settled in Toronto. They were inseparable and their marriage would produce five children. Their love was the kind that existed in fairy tales and they pursued their dreams together in business, family and philanthropy. At the age of 21, he opened his first restaurant, the Java Shoppe and the rest was history. This evolved into one of the largest foodservices companies in Canada. Despite loudly proclaiming to his children that he did not want them following him in to the hospitality industry, they all did! He was never more proud. His love for Canada, Toronto and his parents' birthplace of Macedonia was demonstrated every day of his life. In 1979 he was named an Honorary Citizen of Metropolitan Toronto and in 1989 he was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada for his philanthropic work. He was a recipient of the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation and in 2012 he was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee award for his contributions to Canada. He was also extremely proud of being honoured by the Toronto Police Service as an Honorary Chief of Police for his service to the TPS and the youth of the city, in part due to his founding of the ProAction Cops & Kids program. His charitable endeavours were legion and started at a very young age. These efforts included working with the Salvation Army to prepare over 50,000 Christmas baskets for the needy; travelling with his wife overseas in 1963 for six weeks to personally help organize relief efforts and gather supplies for those injured in the devastating earthquake in Skopje, Macedonia; chairing fundraising for Toronto General Hospital, Cardiac Care Unit; conceiving, funding and building the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy for those with Alzheimer's disease and other memory-related disorders; and creating, funding and initially administering funds for the Toronto Police to positively interact with youth at risk in their communities. In 1978, as Founder and Chairman of the Board, he and his wife took great pride in opening Canadian Macedonian Place, a senior citizen's complex in East York. It was the culmination of a dream to create a home where Canadians of Macedonian decent could live and socialize together. It was a testament to his hard work and vision and he took exceptional pride in how the Macedonian community of Toronto worked in unison. Nearly 40 years later, CMP continues to provide exceptional services to its residents, housing thousands of Torontonians over the years, many of Macedonian decent. John and Dotsa were deeply impacted by the experience of the child-refugees of Macedonia at the conclusion of World War II, who are known as the Detsa Begaltci. Both of them had relatives among the 30,000 Macedonian children who were sent to the countries of the European Eastern Block to escape persecution and death in their native country. Together they organized and paid for the reunion that took place in Skopje, in 1984, to re-unite them with their families. This event became a landmark in the latter-day history of the Macedonian people and led many Macedonians to reunite with their missing brothers, sisters, relatives and friends. He believed strongly in his Eastern Orthodox faith and provided funding for the establishment of its churches around the world. Together with Dotsa, they never stopped their charitable work; this characteristic has been instilled in each of their children. He emphasized to all of his children and grandchildren the importance of education. To this end, he established the Bitove Foundation Scholarship award at Ryerson University School of Hospitality and the John and Dotsa Bitove Law Library at the University of Western Ontario was named in their honour. He also initiated a degree program at the University of Toronto for the study of the Macedonian language and founded a scholarship program for the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) for outstanding students of Macedonian heritage. JB also served as a Director of the Royal Ontario Museum and as the Ontario Chairman of the British Commonwealth Games of 1986. He was a Member of the Canadian Society for the Weizmann Institute and was the Founder of the Armour Heights Rotary Club. He served on several Boards, including Oppenheimer & Co. He was extremely proud of his accomplishments regarding the independence of Macedonia, which culminated in the creation of the Republic of Macedonia in September of 1991. Shortly after its independence, Macedonia was in great need of medical supplies. He helped organize a fundraising event at the SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) with 20,000 people in attendance, the proceeds of which enabled the delivery of the required supplies. On the twentieth anniversary of the Republic of Macedonia's Independence, he was awarded the country's highest award by President Gjorge Ivanov. The Order of "September 8" was presented to him for his "exceptional dedication and commitment in support of the progress of the Republic of Macedonia and its affirmation worldwide as an independent and democratic state." Amongst all of his business and charitable endeavours, he always found the time to be an outstanding husband, father, grandfather and friend. He went to great lengths to ensure that his family homes in Toronto, Georgian Bay and Boca Raton, Florida, were always filled with the sounds of his friends, children and grandchildren playing and laughing together. Christmas will never be the same without him. He loved to play golf and wasn't shy about reminding his family and friends, usually during their backswing, that he had made a hole-in-one. It only took him 78 years! He encouraged everyone around him to dream big dreams and that only through hard work and perseverance will one achieve success. He lived by his philosophy in business that one must always be respected. And respect is something earned -- every minute of every day in everything you do. In keeping with his wishes, John L.N. Bitove was interred at Mount Pleasant Cemetery with his family present. A Celebration of Life will take place in the fall. Details will be announced in the near future. In lieu of flowers, the family would be honoured if donations were made to the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy: JohnBitoveSrTribute.ca, ProAction Cops & Kids: copsandkids.ca or the Canadian Macedonia Place Foundation: canadianmacedonianplace.com


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Published in Toronto Star from Aug. 7 to Aug. 8, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
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13 entries
August 11, 2015
I was very sorry to hear about the passing of John Bitove. I did not know him personally but met most of his children. his achievements in life are legendary. Our prayers are with him and his family in this time of grief. May he rest in peace.
Phil Ladouceur
Philip Ladouceur
August 9, 2015
We are very saddened to hear the news of his passing. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family.
Gary Donald Daniels
August 8, 2015
I will always remember John for always recalling my first name even though I would only see him a few times a year, my condolences to my friends Tom Jordan, Nick and John and the rest of the family.
Ron Boyce
August 7, 2015
It was a privilege to know John and to work with him. I was the Recording Secretary for Medicine for Macedonia as well as working with him on the treatment for a liver transplant for Antonio Cekov. I worked at Toronto General Hospital at the time and was the translator in the treatment for this unfortunate young man, but with the generous financial assistance from John Bitove his young life was extended by many years. John was a kind, generous man who along with his lovely wife, Dotsa, never let his affluence get in the way of his focus, his generosity and his love for his roots - his Macedonia. I appreciated and treasured his friendship and this will always remain a dear memory always. May he rest in peace. alwayshis friendship and I wi
August 7, 2015
May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.
Lazo Na Milka ( Vicky) Calko
August 7, 2015
I was never fortunate enough to meet this great man, but his reputation preceded him. He is a hero to the Macedonian community and an exemplar of a life well lived in every respect. He did so much for the Macedonian cause (my grandfather was among the Detsa Begelci he reunited with family) and he has inspired me to reconnect to my own heritage and give back to Macedonia as well. May we all live with as much courage, passion, strength and love! Bog da go prosti!
August 7, 2015
To the Bitove Family, I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with each of you. I am grateful to have known your father/grandfather. He was a kind and generous man. All of you are a wonderful legacy of his amazing life.
Elaine Quan
August 7, 2015
To the Bitove Family, I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with each of you. I am grateful to have known your father and grandfather. He was a kind and generous man who led by example. All of you are a wonderful legacy of his amazing life.
Elaine Quan
August 7, 2015
A wonderful tribute to a great man. Heartfelt condolences to the Bitove family. Mr. Bitove deeply touched my life through the creation of the Dostsa Bitove Wellness Academy for persons living with dementia. His legacies will live on in the many spaces of love and care that he created.
Gail Mitchell
August 7, 2015
To the Bitove family, we were saddened to hear of your loss. We will remember John's warm smile and positive attitude. Always a kind word to say to those with whom he engaged conversation. May he rest in peace - Bog da go prosti.
Chris and Carol Rapos
August 7, 2015
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow. My father knew Mr Bitove well and had nothing but good things to say about him. He was respected by everyone. We did lose a great Macedonian who gave so much. He will be greatly missed by all the Macedonians. He was a true leader
August 7, 2015
Mr. Bitove was an amazing, determined, passionate, and family-oriented person. A great friend and mentor to me, and a huge patriot for Macedonia. Will miss him - May He Rest in Peace!
Meto Koloski
August 7, 2015
We are deeply saddened by the loss of your father. Macedonians lost a great leader, he will be truly missed.
Bog da go prosti.
Zlatka & Pero Cokov
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