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Thursday March 13, 2014

Lee Lorch

Toronto -- We first met Lee Lorch when he joined Toronto/Volgograd, a venture in citizen diplomacy that a group of us established when the nuclear threat was at fever pitch in the early 1980s. Lee was a member of Science for Peace and often travelled in the Soviet Union attending math conferences.

We met again 20 years later, when our friend and neighbour Alice Bartels introduced us to her father: Lee. Later, he moved into our building in the Distillery District, which afforded us many opportunities to visit, including walks to Soma to indulge in hot chocolate - a treat that his diet forbade. As time went by, we had tea in each other's suites and always enjoyed wide-ranging conversations. It was stimulating to listen to his stories, told with wisdom and humour, and never with bitterness despite hostile treatment by those opposed to his left-leaning views and actions. He spoke of the famous, the forgotten, of the achievements of students, often black women who excelled in academia. They thrived as a result of Lee's encouragement and dedication to their success. Many others benefited from his doggedness on their behalf, his ability to teach and his compassion for those whom society shunned.

Lee was a sociable socialist; he held firm, if controversial, beliefs and acted on them. He was not afraid to ask for what he wanted, whether it was a simple repair to his short-wave radio or a sympathetic ear. Asked if he'd do anything differently, he said, "I wish I'd done more."

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