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HAROLD HEFT November 19, 1964 - July 23, 2015 From an early age, Harold Heft understood the unpredictability of life and therefore how important it is to preserve and share our stories. At age 10, he had lifesaving open-heart surgery and spent a summer convalescing while friends went to camp. That episode made a deep impression and made many future experiences over the ensuing 40 years all the more sweet. In February, 2014, Harold was suddenly diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. With enormous courage and determination he faced a daunting prognosis and grueling medical treatment. Despite his valiant efforts to beat terrible odds, on July 23, 2015 Harold died peacefully in his home, surrounded by those who loved him most. Harold was born in Montreal on November 19, 1964, to Ruby (née Lenet) and Edward Heft, Z"L. He attended Wagar High School in Côte Saint-Luc and then took three degrees in literature: a BA from McGill University in 1987, an MA from Université de Montréal in 1989 and a PhD from University of Western Ontario in 1994. (Those who knew his playful sense of humour can almost hear him say: "I took the degrees, sure, but I also worked hard for them.") After an appointment as Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies at the Halbert Centre, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he started what would become a highly successful career as a senior fundraising and communications professional at University of Toronto (Faculty of Engineering), Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, The Hospital for Sick Children, Mount Sinai Hospital and North York General Hospital. Throughout his career he built new, innovative programs to engage major philanthropy, always looking for the best way to "tell the story" of the causes for which he worked tirelessly. He knew if the story moved minds and hearts, people would act with generosity and the world might be a better place. Harold also loved to bring people together. He inspired and mentored various young professionals and was unfailingly generous about making connections for friends and colleagues. Even in the last months of his life, he was helping people find jobs and offering career advice. A continuous strand of his own story was his writing, editing and publishing. He published three books: On Your Mark: Getting Better Grades Without Working Harder or Being Smarter (published as The Savvy Student in the U.S.); Build a Better Book Club and The Shape of This Dying: Remembering Alexander Bercovitch. Over the past year he was co-editing a new book of collected personal stories of trauma and transformation, work on which continues. He also published many poems; articles and reviews on new and established Canadian and international writers; jazz, rock, folk, blues and pop music; science and neurology and of course, on baseball and in particular, his beloved Expos. His work appeared in The Globe and Mail, Montreal Gazette, National Post, Toronto Star, Tablet, Jewish Daily Forward, among many others. Harold believed strongly in tikkun olam, the Jewish tradition of helping 'to heal the world'. In addition to serving on the Board of Writers' Trust of Canada, New Israel Fund, Harold Green Theatre and the Advisory Board of the Max and Beatrice Wolfe Children's Grief Centre, Harold was a counselor at Camp Erin, a summer camp for bereaved children. He volunteered for ten years at Holy Blossom Temple on the Out of the Cold program, rarely missing a shift. Even while an outpatient at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre he volunteered weekly in the library of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Centre. Harold is predeceased by his father Edward and survived by his mother Ruby Heft, who were married over 50 years, his beloved wife of 16 years Suzanne and his sons Sam and John, to whom he was completely and absolutely devoted; by brothers Joel (Rachel), Richard (Martha) and nephews Jared, Ross, Jacob and A.J.; by mother-in-law Viviane Decker and brothers-in-law David Mitchell (Jenny) and Chris Mitchell. He will be deeply missed by those who loved him and by a core group of friends, far and wide, whom he also considered "family." Although he lived in Toronto for many years, he was a Montrealer to his core and his favourite journey was crossing the bridge back to the island of Montreal that he called home. Sincere thanks to the medical teams at The Gerry & Nancy Pencer Brain Tumour Centre and The Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Hospital, as well as Ashlee and Jonathan and all those compassionate caregivers who helped care for Harold at home. Funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 26th at Holy Blossom Temple, 1950 Bathurst Street. Interment at Holy Blossom Temple section of Pardes Shalom Cemetery. Shiva immediately following and through to Thursday at 64 Oriole Road 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. (prayers at 8 p.m.) In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Harold's memory to the McGill University Library, c/o Donation Records, 1430 Peel Street, Montréal, QC H3A 3T3, 514-398-2787. Fifty years was not long enough for us to have Harold in our lives, or indeed for Harold himself to tell his full story. In his book The Shape of this Dying he wrote a poem about driving back to Montreal with painter Alexander Bercovitch's great-granddaughter after attempting to see a Bercovitch painting at the National Gallery. The poem begins: "You and I are finally silent. / The highway is linear and automatic and / we are lost in the knowledge that / this one journey will end / before we can find even one more / of the stories."

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Published in Toronto Star on Jul. 25, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
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75 entries
August 10, 2015
I just heard of Harold's passing and I am shocked. A more thoughtful and generous soul would be hard to imagine. My sincerest condolences to Harold's family and all who knew and loved him.
Philip Myron
August 5, 2015
Dear Ruby,

I was so sorry to hear about your loss. Please know you are in my thoughts. My deepest sympathies to you and Harold's family. Lionel Malkin
lionel malkin
August 3, 2015
Dear Ruby,
Mario and I were so saddened to hear about your loss. Please extend our condolences to Harold's family. We did not know Harold but clearly he was an exceptional man. Please know we are thinking of you during this difficult time. Helen and Mario
mario and helen sinai
August 1, 2015
Dear Ruby, Suzanne, Sam and John
We are so deeply saddened to hear about your tragic loss. Harold was a kind and generous man, his passing must be almost unbearable. We pray that you will be able to rest and find some peace in the coming weeks. Our sincerest condolences to you all. Love always, Ian & Maggie King (U.K.)
Ian & Maggie King
July 31, 2015
To the Heft family,Iam so sorry for your loss..Harold was a great friend and neighbor growing up in Cote st Luc. May your family be spared any further sorrow.
Steven Stern
July 30, 2015
I knew Harold as a fine poet and a kind person. I'm so sorry to learn of his death and send my deepest condolences to his family.

Ruth Panofsky
July 30, 2015
Dear Suzanne, Sam and John,
My deepest condolences to you all. You are all in my thoughts at this time. Harold's gentle smile, and kindness is something that I will remember about him when he would come to the school.
Renee Mazzei
July 29, 2015
Dear Ruby we are heartbroken for you and for your dear son's family. I tried to get in touch with you in Toronto but was unable to get a number. It's a true tragedy for such an accomplished young man. May G-d give you the strength to cope and remember the beautiful memories. Love Vera and Leo Honigwachs
July 29, 2015
Dear, Dear Ruby (and Heft Families)... my heartfelt condolences...

You are in my thoughts!
Frances Noik
July 28, 2015
I was deeply saddened to hear of Harold's passing. Harold was a fine man and a significant influence for good in others' lives. He will be missed.
Warren Gencher
July 28, 2015
Harold was such a fine individual. I have such fond memories of him from our days at Camp B'nai Brith of Ottawa. My thoughts and deepest condolences are with the Heft family at this time.
Lawrence Moskovic
July 28, 2015
Dearest Ruby and family , I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of your beloved Harold.I am sharing your sorrow and pain.
I pray God to give you strength and courage to go through this most difficult time in your lives.
I present you my sincere sympathy, thoughts and prayers . God bless you all.
July 27, 2015
Heft Family,

Harold was always one of my favorite counsellors at CBB and always had that great smile, he was always fun to be around. I am so sorry for this terrible loss, You are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Tony Fellows
July 27, 2015
Dear Ruby and family, Such a profound loss, such an accomplished son...our deepest sympathies and our love. Cecile and Syd Wise
Cecile and Syd Wise
July 27, 2015
Dear Suzanne, Rich, Martha and the Heft family, I am so sorry to hear this news. Such a great loss - I wish you peace and strength and sincere condolences.
Anjali Baichwal
July 27, 2015
My sincere condolences to the Heft family on the tragic untimely passing of Harold . This is so sad. I will always remember his sense of humor. easy gong personality and happy smile. May your family be spared further sorrow .
Neil and Lori Denbow
July 27, 2015
Dear Suzanne, I am very sorry and saddened to learn of Harold's illness and passing. Please know that you're in my thoughts.
With heartfelt condolences,
Tara George
July 27, 2015
I was so saddened to hear of Harold's passing. He touched and impressed me very deeply when we worked together at Mount Sinai. His ready laugh, endearing turns of phrase, upbeat manner and tremendous sense of humour made him easily one of the most popular and most liked staff members. It was however his kindness and empathy which endeared him to many of us, including me. He was a considerate and highly developed mentor who seemed to understand - almost organically. Good listener, good person. He will be sorely missed.
Michael Anthony
July 27, 2015
Harold Heft with his warm smile and soft spoken demeanor.I always liked passing him in the halls.His smile would last in you a long time.I send to his family and close friends my deepest condolences on such a loss.I only hope that you may find comfort in knowing in how he touched so many people. Lisa Finiffter Class of '83
July 27, 2015
Our deepest sympathies on the loss of your beloved Harold, Ruby. We are thinking of you and wish you and the whole family the courage and strength to go through this most difficult of times.
Sydney and Lou Flam
July 27, 2015
We are so very sorry to hear about Harold. A truly wonderful human being. Our prayers are with the family.
Avi and Karen Markus
July 27, 2015
I was one of those many people who only knew Harold a little bit - we probably hung out together about a half dozen times over a half dozen years. And yet, he changed my life. Most obviously, Harold made connections that helped shaped my career. But also, he set an example that I have tried to emulate ever since - his kindness, his generosity of spirit, and his willingness to help anyone who came into his circle - I try to "be like Harold" in all of these ways. Harold left a legacy of generosity that will live on and on and on.

I am truly sorry for your loss, and grateful to have known such a wonderful human being.
Patchen Barss
July 27, 2015
Dear Richard,
We are so sorry for your loss. Please accept our deepest condolences.
-- Danielle and David Arbuckle
July 27, 2015
GDear Joel
So sorry to hear about your brother our prayers are with you at this difficult time
Heather &Michael Ornstein
July 26, 2015
Ruby, we are thinking of you and the family at this time. Deepest sympathies for your loss.
Kim and Jay Goldman
July 26, 2015
Harold I will always remember your smile and outgoing personality, may you rest in peace!
Sheldon Cutler
July 26, 2015
Baruch Dayan Ha'emet. From Wagar, to CBB Ottawa, Harold always made me smile and laugh! Wishing you my deepest sympathy,
Heidi Tissenbaum, former Montrealer, now in Boston

May the memory of Harold Heft be for a blessing......
Heidi Tissenbaum
July 26, 2015
So sorry to hear about Harold my prayers and sympathy are with you
Rosalind (Raizel) Plotkin
July 26, 2015
Suzanne, Sam and John,

I had just met Harold this past September at Holland Bloorview. The class I volunteer in every Friday morning was lucky enough to have Harold be present with us during the weekly library visits. I wish I had the opportunity to learn more from Harold. We often just had small talk or I would see his amazing smile while checking out of the volunteer computer and we would wish each other a good weekend. We never had the chance to connect over Camp Erin! I became a volunteer for the camp in 2014 after my sister died in 2012 and I was inspired to help other children grieve. Three years ago today she was found unconscious and pronounced death on the 27th. Makes the news of Harold even harder. Alison (my sister) loved literature as well. I'm sure they are in the next world connecting over books and reading. Our class made cards for Harold and I hadn't heard from Shelli any more news. I'm so saddened to hear he has now passed. Thank you Harold for all you do! Just your smile made my day that much better!

Jaclyn Atkins
July 26, 2015
Dear Richie,
Thinking of you and your family and sending my heartfelt condolences to all of you.
"Loving Memories Last Forever."
Elana (Caplan) Shapiro
July 26, 2015
Ruby, Joel, Richie and the immediate family, We have fond childhood memories of Harold and the house on Davies, I am so sorry for your loss
Gary Azimov
July 26, 2015
We are very sorry for your loss. Gene & I met Harold while we were on our daily walks on Castlefield, after my husband's heart surgery last July! He made a difference to so many lives. Harold will be missed! Sending you our best wishes. Lynn & Gene
Lynn Densmore
July 26, 2015
Dear Suzanne, Ruby, Joel, Richie and the entire Heft family,
My heartfelt condolences to you. I have cherished memories of growing up with Harold and feel privileged to have experienced his witty, poetic, creative and generous nature. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this very sad and difficult time. Deeply saddened.
Janice Besner
July 26, 2015
Shocked to hear such awful news. A great loss to the world. Harold was a special person.
Jaclyn polansky
July 26, 2015
Condolences to the family on the loss of Harold, whose life made a difference to many people
Valerie Hyman
July 26, 2015
Dear Ruby, Joel, Richie, Harold's beloved wife, devoted children, dearest family and special friends,
It is with immense sadness that we read this tribute to Harold. There are no adequate words to convey our sorrow on this heartbreaking and cruel loss.
I grew up with Harold, Wentworth, Wagar, CBB not to mention the multi-generational connection we share starting with our grandparents. Please accept our heartfelt condolences.
Jodi and Rhonda Baron
July 26, 2015
I send out my sincerest condolences to Harold's family. I knew him when he was a grad student at Western U. He was learned, funny, creative and generous, and I know his life and heart and intellect and imagination widened and enlarged in inestimable ways in the years after he left London. I am so sorry for your loss.
Manina Jones
July 26, 2015
Dear Ruby and Family,
My deepest Sympathy's on the loss of your son Harold. May you be spared further sorrow.
With heartfelt thoughts, Barbara Silver and Family
July 26, 2015
A beautiful person on earth, now a beautiful spirit. His presence here will be greatly missed...
Christine Neale
July 26, 2015
Our deepest sympathy goes out to you and your entire family. He will be greatly missed. Barbara & Gordie
July 26, 2015
My deepest sympathies to the entire Heft family. May our memories of Harold bring us all peace and comfort at this very sad time.
Marc Cowan
July 26, 2015
Suzanne, Sam and John,

Our deepest sympathies. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and the rest of your family.
Tateishi Family
July 26, 2015
Sending my deepest sympathies. I was a friend of Harold's in high school and I will always remember his smiling face. So sorry for your loss.
Stefanie Chorlton
July 26, 2015
Dear Ruby,
Howard and I so sorry to hear of Harold's passing. Please accept our heartfelt condolences. May all your wonderful memoirs sustain you. Our thoughts are with you at this very difficult and sad time.
Enid & Howard Goldberg
July 26, 2015
Ruby and family: My sincere condolences. I remember Harold when he starred in Oklahoma! at Wagar High School in Cote St. Luc, Quebec. When my sister introduced us, it was like meeting a superstar. He made an impression on me and will never be forgotten.

Harris Black, Bangkok, Thailand
Harris Black
July 26, 2015
Dear Richard and family,

Our deepest sympathies to you and your family during this difficult time.


Howard and Katherine Huss
July 26, 2015
It is with great sadness that I find myself writing this condolence letter to the entire Heft family. I grew up with Harold & we went to school together & he was a good friend who was always smiling, sensitive, thoughtful & caring. Our parents were friends too. We lost touch after college, but when thinking back to our walks & talks I can't help but smile at the fun childhood memories we shared. May you find comfort in knowing that he will always be in our hearts & his memories branded & cherished forever in our minds. Rest in peace my old dear friend, rest in peace.
Debbie Heller-Raphael
July 26, 2015
Dear Ruby and Family
My sincere condolences to you and your family . I am so sorry for your loss. May his memories give you strength.
Sylvia Itzcovitch
July 25, 2015
So sorry for your loss . Thoughts and prayers to you and your family. Love you
jan braverman
July 25, 2015
Ruby I am so sorry for yours and your families loss
Thoughts and prayers to all of you
Love you
Jan Braverman
Jan braverman
July 25, 2015
Sincere condolences to the Heft family. I remember Harold from years at CBB. I am so sorry for your loss.... May his memory live forever in your hearts...
July 25, 2015
My heartfelt condolences to the family of Harold Heft.
Our thoughts & prayers are with you during this very difficult time.
Nancy Pencer & Family
July 25, 2015
Dear Ruby and family, OUR SINCERE CONDOLENCES.may you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.Sid and Jewel
Jewl Shoham
July 25, 2015
My sincere sympathy to Ruby, Suzanne, Sam, John, Joel, Richard and families on Harolds' passing. My thoughts are with you at this sad time. Love,cousin Rochelle (Heft) Pincovich,(Winnipeg)
July 25, 2015
Our deepest sympathy to the Heft family. We have fond memories of Harold from CBB.
Karen Richstone & Earl Forman
Karen Richstone
July 25, 2015
To Suzanne, Sam, John, and all family & friends of a wonderful, kind, generous, thoughtful man, Harold Heft. An incredible loss to all those who had the privilege to know Harold, he touched so many people in many different ways - through his work, his teaching, his writing, his great sense of humour, his passion for making this a better world for everyone. Harold always had an opinion to share, he inspired others to think and challenge the status quo, and always looked for solutions beyond conventional thinking. Harold will be missed by us all, but we are forever grateful that we had the privilege to know him.

Angela Zezza, Rocky Morra, Matthew, Ben & Nicholas
July 25, 2015
I wish my sincere condolences. I knew Harold from my teenage and early twenties years. He was always smiling. I am sorry for gory loss.
July 25, 2015
So sad to hear about this loss. Harold was a real mensch. I had the pleasure of working with him several projects over the years. He was always very generous with his time and advice. He will truly be missed. May his memory be a blessing to all who knew and loved him.
Judy Nyman
July 25, 2015
Harold has made a huge positive difference in many, many lives, and he will always be remembered as someone with incredible integrity, compassion, knowledge, humour, competence, sincerity and honesty. It has been a privilege to have Harold in our lives and he will be terribly missed.
Lynda and Barry Fishman
July 25, 2015
Dear Suzanne and Heft family. Harold was a wonderful, joyous spirit. Deeply saddened. Sincerest condolences.
Marden Paul
July 25, 2015
My sympathies to the entire Heft family. I also knew Harold from CBB. I will always remember Harold. May he rest in peace.
Leslie Pokrass Ornstein
July 25, 2015
My deepest condolences to Harold family. I also went to CBB with him and remember the funny, sparkling personality.
July 25, 2015
what a loss to humanity,a sincere condolences,
Shirley Braverman
July 25, 2015
Heft Family..I am so sorry for your loss. I went to CBB with Harold for many years and his wit and laughter made those years so enjoyable! May you find peace and comfort with your memories.
Mandy Gosewich
July 25, 2015
My sincere condolences
July 25, 2015
To Richard and family,

My sincere condolences to all of you during this difficult time.

Helena Levitt
Helena Levitt
July 25, 2015
Sending prayers.....
warren braverman
July 25, 2015
My deepest sympathies to ruby and eddie,I wish I could be there with you both. I love you
Cindy Braverman Hahn
July 25, 2015
May you all find peace and comfort during this chalenging time.
Jodi Goldman
July 25, 2015
To Ruby and your family. Please accept our most sincere condolences on the loss of your dear son, Harold. May he rest in peace.
Harry & Rose Marks
July 25, 2015
I have known Harold since our kindergarten days and and am so sad for the loss of a great friend as I have so many memories from our childhood. My deepest sympathies go out to his whole family as Harold was such an amazing guy and he will be sadly missed by everyone!!
Mark Maron
July 25, 2015
hello Ruby,
My heart felt condolences for your loss. It is a challenge for me to express myself at a time like this. Hoping better days will come your way soon.

Cousin Sandy Goldman
July 25, 2015
Ruby and Eddie were wonderful parents and it shows. Harold was quite a guy, a rare person. Jack and I are so sorry for your loss and those that Harold touched in his much too short lifetime.
Helyn and Jack Williams
July 25, 2015
My deepest sympathies to the family. I have fond memories from back in our camp days. May your memories bring comfort.
Darren Firestone
July 25, 2015
Puby, Please accept my condolences for your loss. I am truly sorry.
Marielle Miller
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