Friends reflect on the life, legacy of Ruth Goldbloom
Published Thursday, August 30, 2012 6:31PM ADT
Last Updated Thursday, August 30, 2012 6:52PM ADT
The many friends and admirers of longtime Nova Scotia philanthropist Ruth Goldbloom are reflecting on her life and legacy after she passed away Wednesday from cancer at the age of 88.
Goldbloom is the woman most associated with the creation of Canada’s National Immigration Museum at Pier 21 in Halifax, but she was also an enthusiastic supporter of the IWK Health Centre, where her husband Dr. Richard Goldbloom has treated thousands of children over the years.
“It was just passion all the way, from the time she put her feet on the floor in the morning,” says close friend Sherry Porter.
Porter recalled just a few of the projects and charities that Goldbloom threw herself into.
“There was no one more passionate with the United Way, the IWK, the Symphony…Pier 21, Mount Saint Vincent University,” says Porter, naming a long list of charities and organizations in which Goldbloom was involved.
Tourists visiting Pier 21 today likely weren’t aware that the national museum – the only one outside of Ottawa – exists because of Goldbloom.
“Ruth’s here. This is the house that Ruth built,” says Marie Chapman, the chief executive officer of Pier 21. “Not Yankee Stadium. This is the house that Ruth built.”
Chapman travelled with Goldbloom through 1998, raising money for the museum and trying to make the deadline for the July 1 opening in 1999.
“She refused to understand the word ‘no’ and things happen when Ruth says they must,” says Chapman.
The museum opened on time and Goldbloom was at the opening, despite her ailing health. Museum staff tried to work through their grief today, feeling the tremendous loss after Goldbloom’s death.
“It’s tough because, you know, nobody lives forever,” says Chapman.
Four walls on the inside of the museum are a tribute to her remarkable fundraising abilities. Each plaque on the wall represents a donor, and outside the building is the Pier 21 Plaza, dedicated to immigrants but also a testament to Goldbloom’s ability to convince people to give.
“She raised money like others raised dandelions on the lawn,” says former Liberal MP Mary Clancy.
Goldbloom willingly helped others raise money and was a driving force behind fundraising for the Kids Help Phone.
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter recalls how effective she was when the pair were trying to raise money at the ferry terminal one morning.
“I would get a loonie if I was lucky,” he says. “She would get folded money.”
A funeral service will be held Friday at 2 p.m. at the Cunard Centre, near Pier 21.
She leaves behind her husband, Dr. Richard Goldbloom, as well as three children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Rick Grant