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University mourns passing of Hy Belzberg

Campus flag at half-mast today for respected philanthropist and businessman
January 31, 2017
Hyman Belzberg

Hyman Belzberg

Respected Calgary philanthropist and businessman Hyman Belzberg, a major supporter of the University of Calgary, passed away peacefully on Jan. 24, 2017 at the age of 91. He was surrounded by his wife of 68 years, Jenny, along with his children, their spouses and his grandchildren.

Hy, a native and proud Calgarian, will be remembered for his quick wit, sharp sense of humour and deep wisdom. Even at 91 years of age, the phone rang constantly from friends and business partners. He loved to make a deal. At a young age, Hy was buying furniture for his stores and later in life he was forming real estate partnerships. Many will have memories of him sweeping the street outside his store or making a deal on a dining room set or a three-piece group.

What all will remember is his love for his family, friends and community. Hy grew up in the Mission district, graduating from Western Canada High School.

After serving his country in the Navy, he returned to build his furniture store into a series of stores throughout Calgary, with his proudest outpost being Christy's Arcade Furniture at 302 11th Ave. With hard-earned profits from the store, Hy provided the financial backing for the creation of First City Trust. He closed Christy's and focused on a passion passed down by his father, investing in real estate.

Hy and his family were integral in securing Mordechai Richler's papers for the University of Calgary.

Elizabeth Cannon, president of the University of Calgary, said that Belzberg’s loss will be felt on campus. “He has served as a role model to our students for many years, and his spirit of caring will be his lasting legacy throughout our campus,” said Cannon. “Hy’s presence will also be greatly missed in our libraries and the Israel Studies area.”

In addition to his support for the University of Calgary, Hy’s commitment to community was unique and ranged from chairing the Board of Directors of Israel Bonds, United Jewish Appeal and Jewish National Fund to being a member of the Board at Mount Royal University Foundation, amongst many other civic initiatives.