Local philanthropist Leon Judah Blackmore loved life.
This appreciation for life and for community, extended after his passing in 2015, at the age of 81, with a gift of $18.4 million to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation.
Just before the Holocaust, a young Leon Judah Blackmore fled Poland with his family to escape persecution. That experience built the moral foundation for Leon, who eventually became a quiet, yet significant presence in Vancouver’s real estate community.
The most impact
Leon told friends he wanted his wealth allocated to causes where it could make the most impact and help the most people. His donation to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is distributed across several areas, including construction of a new hybrid operating room at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), funding projects for the Men’s Health Initiative, creating a Cardiac Diagnostic Clinic at VGH, renovating the Sleep Disorders Clinic at UBC Hospital as well as investing in cardiology research.
On May 24, in appreciation of his very significant donation, the Foundation renamed VGH’s south-facing Centennial Pavilion to Leon Judah Blackmore Pavilion.
“This gift, which is one of the largest our foundation has ever received, has a huge impact on these four priorities, which are going to advance an area of health that will benefit all British Columbians.” says Barbara Grantham, President and CEO of VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation.
Lust for life
The donation amount is not a random figure. Eighteen, in Hebrew, means “chai” or “life” and that symbolism represents the fervent lust for life Leon had every day.
“In this way, Leon gave ‘the gift of life’ to VCH and the people of British Columbia who need our services,” says Dr. Jaap Hamburger, a VGH cardiologist who looked after Leon and became his friend.
The suffering of the Jewish people throughout history, especially during the Holocaust, were central to Leon’s approach to community. “When you come from a background where everything is taken away from you and you have to start your life over, everything is appreciated,” explains Dr. Larry Goldenberg, who met Leon as his urologist.
Dr. Jaap Hamburger wishes Leon was around today to see the impact he is having at VGH and UBC Hospital. “I only wish I could lead him around the hospital today and show him these things,” Dr. Hamburger says with a sad smile. “He was a good friend – I miss him. I think he would be very happy and proud – he was a strong, disciplined, hardworking man. Striving in everything he did for justice and mercy as the pillars of society.”