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Geoff Taber, left, is pictured with his beloved wife Jacquie and sons Scott and Andrew.

The donors: Family and friends of Geoff Taber

The gift: $2.5-million

The cause: The University of Toronto

The reason: To fund scholarships in law and business

When Toronto lawyer Geoff Taber died in a house fire on Christmas Eve two years ago along with his wife and two sons, the tragedy shook the legal community across Canada.

Mr. Taber had practiced law for more than 30 years, building a reputation as an expert in technology and entrepreneurship. Along with his legal work at Toronto’s Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Mr. Taber also served as a mentor and helped launch the University of Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab, a novel program that works with early-stage ventures that have a science focus.

“He was always this vibrant passionate person who dominated a lot of conversations in a lot of rooms, but in a very good way,” recalled Osler’s co-chair Dale Ponder. “At the time, it took us a while to get over the shock and initial grief. But a number of us who knew Geoff really felt that we should try to do something to remember him.”

Ms. Ponder and a group of colleagues began raising money for a pair of scholarships at the U of T’s law and business schools in Mr. Taber’s name along with a chair in entrepreneurship and innovation. Donations poured in from across Canada and around the world. More than $2.5-million has been raised and the first scholarships were awarded this fall. Another $150,000 was raised by the Taber family’s foundation, which will go toward sports programs.

“Under horrible circumstances it was very gratifying for us that people were recognizing Geoff and his family in this way and remembering all that he had contributed,” Ms. Ponder said.

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