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Jack Loman
Jack Loman

Obituary

Work was a habit Jack Loman could not give up Add to ...

For Jack Loman, the insurance business was about much more than numbers; it appealed to his strong sense of family. By selling life insurance, he felt he was helping people secure their futures. His deep affinity for his work motivated him into his 90s. As recently as January of this year, the 92-year-old was engaged in a daily struggle with icy roads and gridlock to drive himself to the office. Successful throughout his life, Mr. Loman could easily have retired decades ago, but work – an antidote to grief at the loss of his wife – became a habit he could not give up. Jack Loman died in his sleep on May 9 at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.

Like many British servicemen who came to Canada after the Second World War, Jack Loman was determined to build a good life for himself. During the day he knocked on doors selling vacuum cleaners and sewing machines. At night he attended classes at the University of Toronto. It took several years, but he finally earned a master’s degree in economics.

Mr. Loman got into the insurance game at the prompting of his wife. Joan Loman, who worked at Confederation Life, saw how much money good salesmen could make. In those days, getting hired at an insurance company meant you had to come with a ready-made list of clients. Her husband collected free maps of Ontario from gas stations, boarded the train in Oshawa and handed the maps out to immigrants travelling from Montreal to Toronto in search of work. He soon had his client base.

Monarch Insurance hired him and, in 1958, he became one of 40 sales professionals in Canada to join the Million Dollar Round Table, a prestigious international organization that recognizes high achievers in financial and insurance sectors.

In the mid-1990s, Mr. Loman took on partner Don McKitterick and the company evolved into McKitterick Insurance, with clients such as the Canadian Council of Montessori Schools.

Mr. Loman’s prosperity enabled him to send his only child, Deborah, to Branksome Hall, an elite private school for girls in Toronto near their Rosedale home. Through the Branksome connection, the Lomans became friends with the Thomsons, one of Canada’s wealthiest families, with vast business holdings including Thomson Reuters and The Globe and Mail. After Kenneth Thomson died in 2006, his son David came to regard Mr. Loman as a father figure. Trusting Mr. Loman’s discretion and business savvy, Mr. Thomson often sought him out for advice. In a letter of condolence to Deborah Loman, Mr. Thomson wrote, “Your father was a remarkable man. The qualities were immense; devotion, integrity and an optimism that lifted the spirits of those whom he touched on a daily basis.”

Jack Loman was born in Manchester, England, on Dec. 17, 1921, the youngest of four children born to Sarah and Mikhail Lomonosov. According to Deborah Loman, her grandfather Mikhail is believed to have been descended from a renowned 18th-century Russian polymath, scientist and writer of the same name who is credited with a wide array of achievements including discovering the atmosphere of Venus.

Originally furriers and dairy farmers, the Lomonosov family escaped Russia during the anti-Jewish pogroms of the early 20th century and settled in Manchester, a manufacturing city in northern England with an established Russian community. Mikhail Lomonosov shortened the family name to Loman and became highly successful at selling glamorous furs to the wealthy ladies of Manchester. Jack Loman, his sister and two brothers all attended private school. Jack was mathematically inclined, and as a boy developed a passion for the Manchester United football team. He remained an avid supporter for the rest of his life.

When the Second World War began, Mr. Loman enlisted in the Royal Air Force and became a navigator. Part of his service was spent in Burma where, having nothing but bananas to eat for days at a time, he developed an intense dislike of the fruit. Despite this acquired aversion and aside from a bad case of dysentery, he survived the war relatively unscathed, his daughter says.

Back in Manchester in 1949, the broad-shouldered and handsome Mr. Loman attracted the eye of Joan Evans at a dance. Ms. Evans, who worked in an office, was engaged to someone else at the time, but their daughter says it was love at first sight for the two. Mr. Loman pleaded with her to go out with him, saying, “One date is all it will take.” He was right, but his Orthodox parents were incensed by their son becoming involved with a girl who wasn’t Jewish. They hired a private detective to follow her for several months, trying to discover something that would turn their son against her. They even tried bribery, offering Mr. Loman £30,000, a considerable sum in those days, not to marry her. Faced with fierce resistance from their son and his fiancée, his parents finally accepted the inevitable. The couple married in August, 1949.

Seeking new opportunities, the newlyweds moved to Montreal in the early 1950s. But since they were unable to speak French, they decided it would be better to live in Toronto and made the move. Deborah was born in 1958. Her father doted on her, driving her to school every day even though their house was close enough for her to walk. As a child she had a pony, and on graduation received a Ford Mustang. But when parking tickets started arriving at the house and she didn’t have the means to pay for them, her father refused to bail her out. He wanted her to learn responsibility. So she sold her prized possession.

Deborah Loman says spending time with family, including two granddaughters, three grandsons and a step-granddaughter, was a priority for her father. Once Jack Loman and Associates Life Insurance became well established, the boss took time away from work to be with them. Every August he accompanied his wife and daughter to visit relatives in Britain. He was also able to take time off during his wife’s ordeal with breast cancer. When Joan Loman died in 2004, work was his chosen tool to cope with his debilitating grief.

Mr. Loman never remarried, travelled widely, and remained fiercely independent. He gave up smoking at the age of 50 and took up running. His one indulgence was a new car every couple of years. He favoured sports cars but eventually drove a hybrid out of environmental concerns.

He was generous with his fortune, but in a quiet way. He paid for a niece’s education, for example, when his brother was unable to. She didn’t find out until years later. “A man shouldn’t know if you have $5 in your pocket, or $5,000,” he once told his daughter. In the words of Mr. McKitterick, Jack Loman was “a gentleman and one of the good guys.” And, like the travelling salesman he had been in his youth, he was still on the road at 92.

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