Cancer claims arts patron Bluma Appel, 86
Published Monday, July 16, 2007 12:03AM EDT
TORONTO - Four days after celebrating her 67th wedding anniversary, a woman renowned for her patronage of the arts and her dedication to social causes lost her battle with lung cancer.
Bluma Appel died Sunday night in a Toronto hospital surrounded by her family.
Gail Rose Appel, who is married to Appel's son Mark, said her mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer about two months ago.
"She had not been ill for very long. It was very fast,'' she in an interview.
Appel and her husband had just celebrated their anniversary on Wednesday.
"It's extraordinarily difficult. Bluma was larger than life. She's a public person, as well, so she's had enormous impact on that basis, but she's also had enormous impact on our lives,'' Gail Rose Appel said.
Appel also remembered her mother-in-law's passion for social causes, particularly her championship of women in historically male-dominated environments.
"She was a person who was ahead of her time in spotting trends and hoping to do something that made an enormous difference.
She made it her mission "to put women on the boards of every bank and institution and put women forward. I think that was just an extraordinary contribution.''
Although she was born and raised in Montreal, Bluma Appel became a prominent member of the arts community in Toronto where a theatre has been named after her.
Appel supported organizations such as the Canadian Opera Company and Royal Ontario Museum, and also assisted emerging independent actors, comedians and musicians.
Appel is also the founder of the Canadian Foundation for Aids Research.
Due to her commitment to artistic and social causes, Appel was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1988 and later elevated to Officer in 2001.
In 2005, she became one of only three people to be recognized with an honourary DORA award for her support of Canadian arts and culture.
The previous recipients were the late actor William Hutt and director and theatre critic Urjo Kareda.
Appel is survived by her husband Bram, her sons Mark and David, and her five grandchildren.
A public funeral will likely be held on Tuesday.