September 22, 2018

  • Ilse Schaefer (1921 – 2018)

    My mother died two weeks ago. She was 97.

    I think the 35,668 days she spent on this planet covered an incredible range of highs and lows both for humanity and for her personally.

    There were two billion people on the planet when she arrived and seven and a half billion when she left. She lived to see widespread adoption of refrigeration, automobiles, radio, TV, mobile phones, and the Internet, as well as the eradication of many diseases through vaccines and improved hygiene, the spread of democracy around the world and so much more. Also, depressions, fascism, communism, gun violence, terrorism, economic inequality, and the continuing oppression of women and people of colour.

    She lived through many personal hardships like hyperinflation in 1920s Germany, the rise and fall of the Nazis, hiding her newborn daughter in the woods when the air raid sirens sounded, emigrating to a land where she did not know the language, working in a fish factory or as a cook at a hospital to make ends meet, and losing her husband and child to the cruel hand of cancer.

    Ultimately, I think she was happy with her life and with her death. She ended her working life in the scientific journal acquisition department at the University of Waterloo, living in comfortable apartments with all she ever wanted materially. Once she retired – 35 years ago – she travelled, painted, learned to swim, fell in love twice more after her husband’s death, and lived to see her granddaughters graduate university and start their adult lives.

    She’d been physically fit and living independently until this Spring when she had a rapid series of strokes that left her bed-ridden, unable to care for herself, and with limited communication abilities. This was exactly what she’d been hoping to avoid, praying that she’d be taken swiftly when the end came. She’d talked of ending her own life if she was ever unable to look after herself, but my mother didn’t think she could do much more than stop eating, and when she tried that a month after her stroke, it proved much harder than she imagined.

    Fortunately, in talking to her fantastic care team, I discovered that Ontario’s laws had been changed in the last year or so to allow for Medical Assistance In Death (MAID) in particular circumstances. This was what she’d always been hoping for, a way to end her life with the dignity, privacy, and comfort she had always sought in life.

    It took about a month to go through the process to have her approved for the medical procedure. That’s lightning fast for a medical process with government oversight, but a lifetime if you’re waiting and praying for the end.

    We found out on a Monday that she’d been approved and that her death would be at 9:00 PM on Saturday, September 8th. This is a rather bizarre thing to know. Our society does not have the rituals to accommodate awareness of your own or your loved one’s time of death. It made for an odd week, but it was wonderful in that it gave us time to say our goodbyes and to make plans so that the experience would be pleasant for her.

    When the time arrived, she was at home with the lights down low and soft music playing in the background. I held her hand as the doctor administered a series of drugs via IV injection that made her sleep, then become numb, then stop breathing. It took less than five minutes and she went from saying “I’m not sleepy yet” to eyes closed and no more motion or pain or fear in moments. I’m so thankful we allow this most humane form of ending one’s life and I hope this becomes available to everyone everywhere.

    For all the commonalities the 7.5 billion of us on this planet have, I think we are all essentially unique. I’ll miss her uniqueness in this vast world. I keep thinking of things I want to tell her about how my day is going, or how the kids are doing. I’m sure I’ll get over that in time, but for now, I appreciate those moments to remember her connection to and love for us all.

February 15, 2007

  • Web Pioneer Christian Gerard Dead At 36


    I’m so sorry that we have to announce another death in the community. Christian Gerard, Founder and CEO of Webfeat — one of Toronto’s oldest web shops — died last month at 36 years old. Leigh Himel waited until the family made it official to pay tribute to Christian and it was through her lovely post that I learned that Christian had died. Others who knew him have been adding their comments there as well.

    We wish Andrea Gerard and all of Christian’s friends and family much love as we celebrate Christian’s life with them.

    Originally published at on February 15, 2007.

January 24, 2007

  • Internet Marketer Tamara Bonar Dead at 39

    Yesterday Marketing Magazine reported that one of the industry’s most active members took her own life earlier this month:

    Tamara Bonar, the finance director at the Advertising Club of Toronto and longtime ad industry denizen, died Jan. 10. She was 39. The cause of death was suicide, said her sister, Lyn Bonar. She was discovered at her home in Toronto by her boyfriend, Thomas Hepditch. In a career that spanned two decades, Bonar’s experience included work for marketers big and small. She broke into the business as a research assistant at Chatelaine magazine in 1987, moving on to work at places like Young and Rubicam as an account executive in 1991. In 1994, she became a marketing manager at Avis Canada, before moving on to jobs at Sony Music Canada and CanWest Interactive. Most recently, she was president of Torq Brand Fuel, a marketing services consultancy in Toronto she helped start last November.

    I knew Tamara from her time at Sony Music and CanWest but mainly from my course for the CMA where she was at the top of the class and a wonderful contributor. AIMS’ Kathryn Lagden posted a tribute today on the AIMS blog that highlighted some of her volunteer work:

    Tamara Bonar brought much energy and passion to her volunteer role on our event and registration committee. Considering how full of life her outward persona was, it saddened and sobered me to realize the inner conflicts and despondency Tamara must have suffered, when hearing that she chose to take her own life. Information received yesterday from the Advertising Club of Toronto (where she also volunteered as its director of finance) and from Marketing Daily, spoke of her vast experience and acumen as a marketer, and her commitment and passion to her colleagues and workplaces, most recently as president of Torq Brand Fuel, a marketing services consultancy in Toronto she helped start last November. That sounds like the Tamara we knew here at AIMS; that is the Tamara we will very much miss. Our thoughts and condolences are extended to her family and friends, and work and volunteer colleagues.

    I would like to second Kathryn’s sentiment. We’ll miss you Tamara.

    The photo was originally posted by The Advertising Club of Toronto a few days ago.

    Originally published at on January 24, 2007.

November 28, 2003

  • Gary Hoyle (1954–2003)

    Gary Hoyle died peacefully, but unexpectedly on Tuesday November 25th at the age of 49, while living and enjoying life in Costa Rica.

    Gary worked in the online industry since the early days. He was one of the very first AIMS members, probably one of the first twenty or so to set the stage for the association’s later growth. At the time he was head of sales at the Virtual Billboard Network, one of Canada’s first online ad networks. Since then Gary’s been involved in a number of online ventures on several continents.

    At the end of October Gary sent me this update on his life:

    “Me, well living in lovely downtown Escazu, a gringo suburb of San Jose in Costa Rica, paradise.

    Just finishing rainy season down here and looking forward to the beach in a few weeks — some sun, sand, and surfiing.

    Workwise I am running the marketing for a London based gaming company. The founders of our division are American, young guys started in a hotel room in 1997, two guys one computer two cell phones.

    They enticed me down here with the promise of riches, beautiful women, great weather, and great surfing. So far the weather is great, the women are incredibly beautiful, the surfing is real, waiting for the riches — but 3 out of 4 is not bad so far.”

    While I didn’t know Gary that well, I always enjoyed the times we met at industry events and he was most generous with feedback on my various projects and ideas. Gary will be sadly missed and our love and thoughts go to his family and close friends.

    Friends and family will be received on Saturday November 29th between 11 and 1 at Kane Funeral Home, 6150 Yonge Street followed by a memorial service in the Chapel. In lieu of flowers, donations to the charity of your choice would be appreciated.