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Beryl Ivey, an iconic philanthropist who for decades supported education, health care and the arts across Ontario and beyond died Tuesday at age 82.

Ms. Ivey was felled by a heart attack Sunday and hospitalized in Toronto.

She died there Tuesday morning, three days shy of her 83rd birthday.

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Ms. Ivey's son Richard said that his mother was in "vintage form" right up until her death.

"So we all got to say hi and bye," he said from his Toronto home Tuesday night.

As news of the death slowly spread, praise poured in for Ivey, who, along with her husband, donated an estimated $150-million to various causes through the Ivey Foundation.

"This city and province and country has lost a great Canadian," said Tony Dagnone, former chief executive of the London Health Sciences Centre.

Though she and her husband of nearly 60 years, Dick, moved to Toronto about 18 months ago, her love for London, Ont., the place she called home since arriving for university, never waned, her family said.

"She missed London enormously," said Richard Ivey.

"She loved London and she loved many of the institutions, big and small."

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At the University of Western Ontario, whose business school now bears the Ivey name, there's no overstating the effects of her generosity, said UWO president Paul Davenport.

"I feel an enormous admiration for all she's done for London and for Londoners," he said.

"The Ivey family is the foremost benefactor of (Western). There's no doubt about that."

Far from just a financial donor, the modest Ivey believed passionately in the institutions she supported, said London MPP Deb Matthews.

Ms. Ivey's legacy in London, added Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best, will live on indefinitely.

Her private funeral will take place in London on Friday and a memorial will be held at a later date.

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Born Beryl Nurse in 1924 in Chatham, Ont., to a Canadian army lieutenant-colonel who taught elementary school, and a former military nurse, Ivey was a celebrated track star who arrived at UWO in 1943.

It was the academic scholarship she received that would inspire her generosity years later, she said in a 2005 interview.

She would marry Dick Ivey, whom she met two months into her first year at UWO, and join his wealthy family.

In the 1950s, the pair had four children, to whom friends say they passed along their sense of generosity.

It was Dick's father, Richard G. Ivey, who in 1947 incorporated the Ivey Foundation.

Beryl, however, is credited with the business-like approach to philanthropy the family adopted in the 1970s.

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She and Dick passed along control of the foundation to their four children in 1997.

The list of organizations the Ivey generosity helped is long and distinguished: UWO and the LHSC, the Grand Theatre, Museum London, the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and Parkwood Hospital.

For Beryl and Dick, travel was also always a passion.

About two years ago the couple moved to Toronto to be closer to their children, effectively severing the family's last official tie to London.

In June, Beryl was named to the Order of Canada.

It was an honour she eagerly anticipated receiving this February, friend Bill Brady of London said.

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While she will be remembered for her generosity, Mr. Brady - who called Ms. Ivey "a remarkable force" - said she was anything but a soft touch when it came to cash.

"She was no pushover," he said.

"You had to make a strong case for (financial support). You had to prove it was worthwhile. I can't think of another philanthropic family who did the kind of research they did."

By all accounts, Ms. Ivey's life was marked by integrity.

And fittingly, in a 2003 interview with the London Free Press, she picked it as her favourite word.

"You must always have integrity in your dealings with people," Ms. Ivey, then 78, said.

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"It is a big word that covers so much. It gives no allowance for doing what isn't right."

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