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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.

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Condolence Messages

  1. We are all richer for the remarkable legacy your father left behind. Our thoughts are with you during this sad time.

    Faye Cohen and Stacey Hersh

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  2. Karen and Morley Sklar :

    Dear Alan and Stephen

    Our deepest sympathies on the loss of your dad. He really was an amazing guy and his sons have certainly followed in his footsteps. I have fond memories of you and your family in our young “Bar Mitzvah” days.
    We wish you comfort in your memories.

    Much Love

    Karen and Morley

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  3. My deepest condolences to the family.

    Sincerely, Jack Dichter

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  4. Singer Family,

    I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Jack. He was literally a legend, and a hero growing up in Calgary. He lived an amazing life, and his legacy is incredible.

    Robert Cohen

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  5. Yeshwanth K R Bobbiti (Bob) :

    My Deepest Condolences to Mr Jack Singer’s Family. It is a great loss to all of us.

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  6. Dear Alan and Stephen,
    I always enjoyed being in your Dad’s company; he had such an easy way about him and a great sense of humor. I especially remember his warmth , charm and very quick wit. He was very much one of a kind and will be missed by many. Sending you love and best wishes…..I think of you often, Brenda

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  7. Susanne Smolinski :

    Go peacefully Mr. Singer in the knowledge that you left this world for a better place. I will miss your smile, wonderful stories and your great laugh.

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  8. Dear Alan & Stephen:

    My deepest sympathy on the loss of your dad. He certainly left me with an everlasting impression when I first met him, while working @ Abbey Glen in 1975. An amazing guy with an amazing memory! In 1985 when I happened to be @ “Trade Winds”, and we had not seen each other for 10+ years; he recognized me instantly. With a big cigar in his mouth, he stack out his firm grip to shake my hand & asked what I been up to for last ten years! I was awestruck!

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  9. Sugarfoot Anderson :

    Dear Singer Family, I am deeply sorry for your loss. Jack was a good friend and he will be missed. I am sorry that I am unable to attend the services, but my thoughts will be with you. With deepest sympathies. Sugarfoot Anderson

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  10. Alan and Stephen, and family

    My thoughts and prayers are with you in the loss of your father, truly a great man.

    Sincerely,

    Kim McGregor, Calgary, AB

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  11. I have my memories of Jack, Shirley, Alan and Stephen and dog Zabacha (sp?) coming for Xmas dinner at my sister’s house. I was struck by their kindness and was always taken out for lunch by Shirley when I would come to town. My thoughts are with Stephen and Alan right now as when we become orphans we pass through another portal in time. My sister is Marlene Monk and she is deeply saddened today and sends her love to the boys.

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  12. I am sorry to hear about Mr. Singer’s passing. He was a such a good man, he will now rest in heaven. His soul is now set free and is now with the angels.

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  13. Dave Hanen & the Hanen Family :

    Stephen & Alan, sorry for the loss of your wonderfully brilliant Dad. My Sister Michelle recalls watching TV in bed with Jack & Shirley, 1st time for remote TV also. They were so very generous to one and all. Dave

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  14. Sarabeth Carnat :

    Sincere condolences to your family Shirley, Allan & Stephen on the loss of Jack. I have lots of memories of our childhood.
    Thinking of you.

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  15. Dear Singer Family,
    As neighbors for forty five years, we would like to express our deep sorrow with the passing of Mr. Jack Singer. The obituary very well expresses the role Mr. Singer played during the rapid growth of the City of Calgary. His dynamic life should be an example for many. During the last years, we celebrated the sunny days in our adjoining gardens. Once in a while we would enjoy a whiff of cigar smoke from his garden. We wish you much strength during the coming days.
    Best Regards, Derk and Carla Cosijn

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  16. Allan Switzer and the Switzer family of Vancouver :

    Dear Alan & Steven,
    The last of his generation, a legendary man and son of legendary parents Bella and Abe. We send you our deepest condolences from William, Frances, Allan and Renee Switzer and families. May his memory be a blessing.
    Allan Switzer

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  17. Delores Gallelli :

    Alan & Stephen,
    With deepest sympathy on the loss of your Father. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  18. Avigail Cohen :

    To Alan & Stephen,
    With deepest sympathy on your father passing. G-D Bless You!
    Avigail

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  19. John van Drunen :

    To Allen & Stephen,
    Our sincere condolences, my Mother worked for Mrs. Singer in the nineties for a brief period and spoke well of you all. I met your Father once in your home and was awe inspired about his knowledge of sports and business. I remember his advice to buy a home and start a family.

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  20. Dear Stephen, Alan and families,

    So sorry to hear of the loss of your Father. It seems like yesterday he was sitting in his office (where later you often sat Stephen).
    He was always so welcoming, kind and interested in everyone. He made a strong statement in my heart, as did all of you.
    Kindest regards to all of you, I trust you are doing well.
    Sincerely,
    Lisa Bredahl

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  21. Dear Alan and Steve-

    So many lovely memories as a kid of your parents, birthday parties, the drive-in (in the 1st grade), your Mother braiding my hair. Your Father had a great presence and lived a full and very productive life. My condolences to you both.

    Liz Hayward

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  22. Dear Alan & Stephen
    I just found out about your Dad…a truly memorable man. My condolences.

    Stephen, maybe we’ll see each other again this summer at the Jazz Festival in Vancouver…Be Well.
    Ira.

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  23. Brenda Andrews :

    Dear Stephen and Alan, I just wanted to go on the record to say it was a privilege to be able to call your Dad my friend. Him and your Mom were so loving and kind to me and I am so grateful to have some great memories. We did have a lot of fun back then. I am happy to have been able to see him in the year before his passing. I have many fond memories and funny stories. I will never forget him. He was a wonderful man. Love and prayers, Brenda

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  24. The van Sprang family :

    So very sorry to see you go Jack. You and Shirley were the greatest, and shall be forever remembered fondly by our family. With love to all of the Singer family.

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