Esther Zipursky was born December 10, 1933, the fourth child of Leah and Myer Zipursky, born with her twin brother Irvin, in St. Boniface, a suburb of Winnipeg.
Myer and Leah were immigrants from pre-revolutionary Russia. Myer was a strong, handy man who opened a garage and repaired cars, while Leah raised the children in a traditional Jewish home.
The Zipursky family moved to Vancouver in the 1940’s where they bought a house in Kitsilano (3175 West 15 Ave) and Myer had various businesses over time – a grocery store near Burrard and Broadway, a garage, and a used furniture store at Trafalgar and 4th Avenue. Myer used his farming skill to advantage – and to neighborly surprise – by growing fruit and vegetables (including several stalks of corn) in his backyard. He also had a small pond, in which he kept goldfish, a constant battle with neighborhood cats, racoons, and overflying herons.
Esther went to Kitsilano high school, which she used to recognize daily when she and Dan lived at Tapestry at the O’Keefe from 2010-2013. We moved her to Louis Brier Jewish Home for the Aged once her wandering became a problem for Dan and she would no longer accept help in dressing and personal care.
Esther and Dan met at a mixer for Jewish singles in Vancouver in the mid-1950’s. Esther loved Dan’s gentle kindness, and she was glad to leave Vancouver to meet him in Toronto, where he was working in the film industry and for CBC, when they married in 1956. David was born in 1958 while they lived in an older house on Avenue Road.
In 1960 Dan was offered a job at CFRN-TV, a new CTV affiliate in Edmonton, so the family moved to Brentwood homes, a campus of 4-plex townhomes of middle class families, near Westmount Shopping Centre. Esther shopped weekly, bringing her shopping trolley and young son to Woodwards food floor.
Esther was a warm-hearted extrovert, with a strong sense of the need to be warm and kind. She knew the names of most of the staff and checkout clerks at the Safeway stores she frequented, and had a kind word for them all, often remembering their children’s names and upcoming life milestones. Even in the last week of her time at Parkview Esther tried to greet people warmly, remembered people’s faces, even some she had not seen for many years.
Esther achieved some admirable firsts in her life. After years of smoking she decided to quit. She learned to drive the family Volkswagen, and every car we owned since then and was a good driver and navigator. Once David started school in 1963, she asked Dan if she could get a job, and worked at a number of public schools working in the library. When David was in high school, she held a job as audio-video coodinator at a 2500-student Jasper Place Composite High School, where she was known as the “AV-lady” at a time it was unusual for a woman to be technically proficient, and she threaded projectors, and instructed teachers on how to use and manage video-tape recorders and other equipment. Esther (and her brother Irv) both have artistic talents (and were both left-handed with pressure at school to write right-handed), and took a dress-making course at NAIT (the equivalent of BCIT) where she combined her design eye, and drafted patterns to create her own designed dresses. She designed her own costume for Klondike Days, a long dress period piece in moss green.
After David left to attend UBC in the late 70’s Esther rallied to become a volunteer role in a Jewish women’s group, and purused her artistic interest in drawing, painting (oil and watercolor) and calligraphy, always joining clubs where she could be with other like-minded women and get encouragement.