Adventurer of the spirit, artist of life, family and community linchpin, marketing researcher, life-long student, friendship’s pattern. Born Nov. 3, 1945, in London, England, died May 21, 2013, in Toronto of cancer, aged 67.
Liz Jaye did not jump out of airplanes or win a Pulitzer Prize; she excelled at something far more important – unmatched empathy for others. She brought strength and joy to all who knew her. Liz and husband Ivan had a marriage most can only dream of. Their home in North Toronto was a hub for a large family and many friends.
Born Liz Mornington, she met and married Ivan Jaye in London. They immigrated to Canada in 1969. After taking time off to raise her family, Liz entered the sales profession as a neophyte. But her persistence and persuasive powers combined with an ability to understand people, made her a top salesperson at Xerox, where she won a bicycle, crates of beer and more.
She next turned her empathy and intense curiosity into a career as the perfect marketing researcher. She excelled in moderating focus groups and creativity sessions, always knowing the most stimulating questions to ask in a way that brought out the best in others. This strength also allowed her to bring out the best in her many friends. The very intonation in her voice when she spoke a friend’s name implied that she knew your strengths and weaknesses and loved you for both. Her greatest gift was to make us all feel as if we were the only ones.
Her powers of observation and prodigious memory meant that Liz could recall every book she read (and there were many) and every film she saw. In addition, Liz was tenacious; she completed a degree at the University of Toronto while working full time, raising two young children, chairing her synagogue’s committee on HIV/AIDS and helping with the settlement of boat people. Her intellect and honesty shone. She asked penetrating questions at Torah study class, always pushing for more nuanced answers.
Liz had her quirks. A great bluffer at the game of Dictionary, she could spin a completely convincing yet fictitious definition in the most convincing of styles. She had a dreadful singing voice, but once drew the admiration of a lake of cottagers when a few glasses of wine encouraged her to belt out a string of popular show tunes at the top of her voice.
From the moment Liz learned that her lifespan was limited, she determined to enjoy life’s gifts to the fullest. She assured others that she was at peace with her fate and then she and Ivan paid even more visits to Seattle to see son Paul, his wife Karen and beloved grandchildren Noah and Lila. They spent time with daughter Naomi and partner Jeremy, travelled to Sedona, Ariz., cruised to Alaska, crossed Canada by train, and enjoyed many relaxed, laughter-filled dinners with friends. Liz often said her last 3 1/2 were the best years of her life.
Little grandson Noah, aged 6 and a fan of Star Wars, best summed up the impact Liz had on so many: “Liz is like the force. She’ll always be with me.” We agree.
Marillene Allen, Ann Crichton-Harris, Cynthia Good are Liz’s friends.