Husband, father, zaida, stockbroker, storyteller. Born Oct. 13, 1919, in Toronto. Died Aug. 12, 2011, in Toronto of cancer, aged 91.
Albert Waxer was born, raised and died in Toronto. He always had great pride in the city. It was only late in life that he would concede Montreal bagels were “okay, if you like that kind of bagel.”
One of five children of Benjamin and Esther Waxer, his upbringing was typical of a family of immigrant parents. His stories of those times painted a picture of few luxuries but many warm memories of close family times, the food, sports teams and clubs, some school, after-school jobs and, of course, the food.
The years he spent in the army with the Prince of Wales Rangers out of Peterborough, Ont., were formative. He enlisted in 1942 and trained in the mountains of British Columbia and rain forests of Vancouver Island with soldiers from varied backgrounds, inspiring his lifelong love of physical fitness and his appreciation of the breadth and diversity of this country. The time he spent serving overseas as an intelligence sergeant with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles provided grist for his many life lessons and stories.
Albert’s philosophy was a combination of the Boy Scouts credo of leaving a campsite as good or better than you found it, and the golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That and, “Don’t mix in,” by which he meant mind your own business unless asked for your opinion.
He married Aileen Burnham in 1950 and had four children: Steven, Cheryl, Warren and Camille. The marriage ended in 1966.
Albert survived the raising of four children – for several years as a single parent – by the fact that every misstep they took or were about to take, he had seen before and likely had a story about. He frequently reminded his kids, “There are no new games, just new players.” In 1970, he married Mae Hedges.
Albert was 40 years a stockbroker but not a gambler. He retired from Yorkton Securities in 1991.
After being diagnosed with glaucoma upon retirement, he immediately volunteered with the Glaucoma Research Society, organizing their office, fundraising, stuffing envelopes and serving as president.
A multifaceted man, Albert had a passion for life. He loved food and consequently seldom missed his 6 a.m. sessions at the gym, unless it was the occasional “dividend day” whereby he cashed in and took the day off.
His last days were typical of how he lived his life. He seldom complained. In his final months he enlisted the help of hospital staff in the planning and execution of a romantic 41st wedding anniversary dinner for Mae. There were flowers, a tablecloth, hospital food for two, wine and a lovely view from his room.
Albert was a man of his word and a storyteller. He had a long and productive life and, true to his word, left the world a better place than he found it.
By Warren Waxer, Albert’s son.