Joe Segal was a remarkable humanitarian, businessman and philanthropist who passed on May 31, 2022 at the age of 97. A man who epitomized philanthropic leadership, and whose integrity and generosity have enriched and improved the lives of British Columbians. And Gary, Joe’s son, is grateful to have spent much of his life with such a man.
“My dad had an open-door policy. We did our own things, but he shared his wisdom with me daily,” says Gary. “For 36 years we shared an office and I particularly loved going to lunch with him. It was a pleasure to see his phenomenal manner with people and witness how well he would treat everyone, this parade of people who would come to do business, seek personal advice, or help support charities. One way or another, he always helped.”
Gary Segal remembers his father with an unending warmth—like a lit hearth.
While many came to know Joe once he was an established name, Gary was there at the beginning. He recalls the late nights his father worked trying to build a future for his family—the most important thing in Joe’s life—and he always looked forward to the insightful dinnertime discussions.
It’s no wonder then that Gary, after maturing into adulthood and practicing law for six years, decided to join his father’s company. It was a rare opportunity in his eyes—a “blessing”, as Gary says—to have a father and son work side-by-side. One that he didn’t take for granted, and he used his time to gain as much wisdom as his father would dispense.
Wisdom Joe shared up until his last day. Gary recalls his dad met with clinician-scientist Dr. Eitan Prisman at VGH. Joe had made a point to visit with Dr. Prisman’s team of researchers and clinicians and offered them words of encouragement.
“That was my dad, mentoring and motivating right to the end,” says Gary, adding his father had a particular fondness to the health care staff at VGH and UBC Hospital, who were an “indispensable” part of Joe living to be 97.
With every life-saving encounter he had with VGH and UBC Hospital, Joe’s awareness of the talented medical professionals grew and he made a point to support the life-changing research projects in various medical fields, from stroke to cancer to spinal cord injury and surgery.
“He recognized that such talent was always at risk of being poached, and he never took for granted how vital they were to the very best health care,” says Gary. “My dad just cared so deeply about life and people on both a personal and higher level. He just had a real zest for life. His loss is a huge void in my life, but I’m able to draw on those memories and the extensive legacy he left for us.”