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Tuesday January 22, 2013

Edward Halprin

Entrepreneur, modern thinker. Born Dec. 2, 1929, in Winnipeg, died Aug. 30, 2012, in Winnipeg of complications from Alzheimer's disease, aged 82

Edward was the middle child of Joseph and Rae Halprin, a lawyer and doting homemaker. While his brothers pursued law, he struck out on his own after high school, first as a building contractor for Shop Easy stores across the Prairies and Eastern Ontario, and later as an entrepreneur.

He was a gregarious risk taker and lived life large. He flew a private plane and drove a new car every year. In his 40s, he bought a Harley Davidson, which he rode with like-minded strangers across Western Canada.

Handsome and personable, Edward was often mistaken as a celebrity, part of the Rat Pack. Certainly he dressed the part. The pictures in his wallet were of his shoes - alligator, snake and iguana skin. It was a joke, of course, that he favoured these things more than his family, but in retrospect it was a true index of how unconventional his home life was.

He avoided most family events, preferring to teach his children the lyrics of his favourite Sinatra songs or how to shoot a rifle - which he did at the family home, where he had a target installed in the basement precariously close to the furnace.

Despite his wild side, he was conservative in his parenting. Since there wasn't anything he hadn't done, there was nothing his teenaged daughters could pull over on him, he would warn as they left the house. Once, he greeted a date with a shotgun. He was only packing for a hunting trip, but he made his point. He delighted in asking dates how old they were, responding that at their age he was 30.

While he sometimes showed a dark side, he was also loving and generous. He both lent and gave money to friends.

Though he lacked formal education he was an advanced thinker with modern ideas.

He predicted the evolution of denim from work wear to ladies' fashion as early as 1962 and set about to acquire the Canadian rights to Lee Jeans. At a time when women mostly wore skirts, he dressed his daughters and wife in head-to-toe denim. Today it is hard to believe their mortification as they skulked in the back lanes to avoid detection.

In the mid-1960s, he moved to California to capitalize on the real estate boom in the Simi Valley. He returned to Winnipeg to open a car dealership.

When things didn't happen quickly enough, he lost interest and moved on to the next thing. In between, he always returned to mortgage lending and the construction industry, mainstays which took him to Port Arthur, Fort William, Edmonton, Calgary, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Vancouver. His fortunes grew and shrank, ending with one ruinous lawsuit over a Nevada land claim.

Following a diagnosis of Alzheimer's in 2007, Edward returned to Winnipeg after an absence of more than 37 years to be cared for by those who loved him.

E. Kerrie Halprin is Edward's daughter.

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