SINGER, Jack December 17, 1917 - February 2, 2013
Well known Calgary Businessman, real estate developer, athlete and philanthropist Jack Singer passed away in Calgary on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at the age of 95 years.
Calgarians today are most familiar with his legacy, The Jack Singer Concert Hall, which his sons Alan and Stephen initially funded in 1982 as a tribute to their father.
An all-round athlete as a teenager, Jack was a star pitcher on the Central High School baseball team, a quarterback and a Canadian Golden Gloves boxer with 17 straight wins. Jack turned in his boxing gloves for a championship business career in his early twenties to follow in the footsteps of his parents Bella and Abraham Singer.
From his modest beginning the family became one of early Calgary's leading real estate owners and used their earnings to bring thousands of Polish Jews to Canada before and after the Holocaust.
Born in Calgary, Jack learned the real estate business as he collected rooming house rents for his family. As a young man he partnered with Avrum (Abraham) Belzberg to form United Management, a partnership that lasted over 40 years.
Jack married the glamorous Shirley Cohen in 1944 and the couple would soon be known for their fashion-setting lifestyle and elegant entertaining.
Jack and his brother Hymie brought the strip mall concept to Alberta in the 1950's and 1960's, building malls with Safeway and banks as the anchor tenants as quickly as they could buy land and obtain financing. Later, the Singer family built many of Calgary's landmarks such as the Southland Commercial Centre and Alberta Place.
The Singer family businesses would eventually be involved in land development throughout Western Canada, California, Texas and Arizona. The subject of numerous media profiles, the charming Jack Singer was featured most notably in Time, Macleans and Canadian Business.
While his business success was astounding, Jack took particular pride in the family's loyalty to the business associates who had helped it reach success. ''Our family has had the same accountants, lawyers, and insurance people for more than 70 years,'' he often said.
One of Jack's biggest dreams in life involved the film industry. Once his business affairs were established, he found time to become friends with many Hollywood luminaries including Peter Lorrie of The Maltese Falcon, George Burns, and Truman Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany's and other books made into unforgettable films.
Jack's interest in films grew so great that he eventually bought the studio of Academy Award winning director Francis Ford Coppola, renaming it Hollywood Center Studios.
Jack's influence in the Hollywood district was so well-regarded that last year the Los Angeles City Council issued a proclamation thanking him for his inspiration in leading the revitalizing of the District of Hollywood and for his dedication to the film industry, noting that: ''Jack Singer came for an autograph and ended up saving the community.'
As a friend to athletes from all types of events, Jack raised money for WW II causes bringing in top boxers for exhibition matches. An athlete that he always regarded with special pride, his racehorse Tyhawk that set a world record in 1959. Despite all his ups and downs in his business ventures, Jack was always ready to help out a friend in need, believing that his good fortune should be shared. He had the remarkable ability to be at ease with all members of the community and stories about his life abound featuring his sense of humour and interest in others.
As his long-time friend Alex Lister noted, ''Jack was a man with a heart.'
Funeral Services will be held at the Beth Tzedec Synagogue, (1325 Glenmore Trail S.W.) on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. with burial to follow at Queen's Park Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made directly to the EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts, 205 - 8 Avenue S.E., Calgary AB, T2G 0K9 Telephone: (403) 294 - 7455 or the Jewish National Fund, 1607 - 90 Ave S.W., Calgary, AB T2V 4V7 Telephone: (403) 255-0295. Condolences may be forwarded through www.mcinnisandholloway.com.
Arrangements in care of the CHEVRA KADISHA OF CALGARY, Telephone: 403-244-4717.
Monday February 4, 2013
© Copyright 2014 The Globe and Mail Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The Globe and Mail, 444 Front St. W., Toronto, ON Canada M5V 2S9
Phillip Crawley, Publisher