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Friday August 22, 2014

Shirley Sharzer
(nee Lev)

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Shirley Sharzer in Ottawa on August 20, 2014. Shirley was predeceased by her husband Myer Sharzer in 1972, and her sisters Anne Ostry (George) and Eva Werier (Val) and brother Roy Lev. Proud mother and mother-in- law to Stephen Sharzer and Marilyn Bongard, and Jackie Sharzer and Mike Bowers. Nana to her loved granddaughters and their partners, Melissa Sharzer and Rob Kershaw, Leanne (nee Sharzer) and Andrew Hodson. She will be missed by loving family including Mike Sharzer (stepson) and his wife Marlene Conway, Margaret Sharzer (widow of stepson Lion Sharzer), sister-in- law Linda Lev, nieces and nephews Lisa, Jay, Greg, Avi, David, Mark, Judy, Michael and Jono and their partners and children, and others. She will also be missed by many friends, neighbours and former colleagues.
  Shirley was born in Winnipeg on January 23, 1928 to the late Abraham and Edith (nee Cooperman) Lev. Shirley entered university at age 16, leaving at age 17 to become a reporter for the Winnipeg News. A year later, she joined British United Press as a reporter and editor but was fired when they found out her age. At age 20, she was hired by the Winnipeg Citizen where she met and married Myer, then City Editor. She then joined the Winnipeg Free Press, becoming the first woman to cover city hall and the legislature. After time off to raise their family and moves to Montreal and Toronto, Shirley returned to work at the Toronto Telegram and then the Toronto Star when the Tely folded in 1971. Myer died, too young, in 1972. After Myer's death, Shirley focussed on work and family, never finding another man as erudite, urbane and sage as Myer. In 1974, it was off to academe, joining the new Master''s Program in Journalism at the University of Western Ontario where she became the Assistant Dean. In 1979, the lure of active journalism was too much and she joined the Globe and Mail, where she ultimately became the Deputy Managing Editor, the highest position in print journalism held by a woman at that time. At the end of her career, she joined the Southam News Group as their Editorial Training and Development Coordinator, eventually persuading them to locate her at the offices of the Ottawa Citizen, conveniently close to her grandchildren. In 1999, she was appointed to the Order in Canada in recognition of her pioneering work as a female journalist. After her retirement, Shirley remained a mentor to many journalists. One of her journalism students once wrote to her that she combined tough professional standards with great personal warmth. It has been said that for women in journalism, Shirley 'was the role model'. A few years ago, Patricia Graham, then Editor-in-Chief of the Vancouver Sun, said: 'So many of us owe a lot to Shirley. She was our inspiration'.
  World and political affairs were a staple at the family table with Shirley and Myer. Together they inbued their children with a strong principles and a keen sense of social justice. Later, when her grandchildren Melissa and Leanne were born, one of her great pleasures was to prepare a home-cooked meal every Sunday night for them and their parents. When cancer struck twice after she retired, she dealt with it with dignity, courage and resilience. As her health faded, she was determined to stay in her home which she did to the end.
  Beyond family and work, Shirley made fast friends wherever she went. Shirley was a fan of theatre and opera, gardening, reading, embroidery, fashion and design. After her retirement, she remained an inveterate news junkie.
  At Shirley's request, she will be cremated and there will be no funeral. A gathering to celebrate Shirley's life will be held at a future date. Donations to The Shirley Sharzer Fund at the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation or to the Journalism Fund at the Ryerson School of Journalism would be appreciated.
  We would like to express our deep gratitude to the staff at the Ottawa Hospital, General Campus and to her family doctors, Doctor Lisa MacEachern and Dr. Laura Di Marzo, for their boundless compassion, care and professionalism.
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