It is with great sadness, the family of Max Labovitch mourn his passing on Sunday, January 14th, 2018, at the St Boniface Hospital, four days before his 94th birthday.
Max was predeceased by his wife of 55 years, Loretta (Gold). He is survived by children, Valerie Lowenstein (Arnie) of Boston and Harriet Breslauer (Richard) of Calgary as well as grandchildren Jeremy, Daniel, Steven (Alyssa) and Kelly. He is also survived by his brother Irvin.
Max was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1924, son of Joseph and Goldie both of whom immigrated to Canada from Romania. He was one of six siblings including four brothers and two sisters. He attended the Peretz School and Isaac Newton high school in Winnipeg. Max began skating and playing hockey at the age of seven, a passion that would be with him his whole life. Max played Bantam A, Bantam B and Midget hockey with the Excelsiors before playing Juvenile hockey with the Winnipeg Rangers. In 1941, at the age of 17, Max began his professional hockey career with the New Haven Eagles of the American Hockey League before joining the New York Rangers in 1943. Max became the first Jewish Canadian-born player in the NHL.
Max played professional hockey until 1954 for the New York Rovers, the Los Angeles Ramblers and the Toledo Mercurys of the IHL, where he was captain and won the MVP. Max continued to play hockey for many years with the Manitoba old timers. His love for hockey continued till very late in life, including in-line skating until the age of 83.
Max’s athletic skills were not limited to hockey. He was an avid golfer and was the club champion at the Bakersfield Country Club in California, as well as years later at the Bel Acres Country Club in Winnipeg. He was also active in soccer, baseball and swimming as a youth.
In 1954 Max met the love of his life, Loretta Gold, at the Olympic skating rink and they were married a few months later. Max and Loretta were married for 55 years. They enjoyed dancing, playing golf and, later in life, spending winters in Las Vegas. He enjoyed spending time with his brothers and sisters and would travel to California often to see them. He also took great pride in the accomplishments of his four grandchildren and enjoyed spending time with them in Calgary and Boston.
Following his hockey career, Max became the sales manager with Chilton Automotive for Western Canada. He worked with Chilton for over 40 years.
Max was an extrovert. He loved to get together with his friends for breakfast at the Salisbury House and later at the Burger King to discuss the news of the day, politics and sports. He had a very strong will, independent mind and seemed always to be at the center of the discussion. Max was very proud to be Jewish, taking pride in his heritage and ensuring that his daughters had a strong Jewish education. He was most passionate about Israel and had an insatiable interest in listening to the latest news about Israel and the region.
Max was an active member of the YMHA, Brandeis Club and B’nai B’rith for many years. This past year, he was honoured by the Rady Jewish Community Center for his achievements in hockey and sports.
Strength was the characteristic that most defined Max. He had strength of mind, body, spirit and will that was evident to all who knew him. He leaves behind a loving and devoted family who take strength from the lessons and memories of their time with Max that surely will help propel them to the next chapters of their lives.
The funeral took place at the Etz Chayim Synagogue in Winnipeg on January 16th, with burial at the Hebrew Sick Cemetery. Pallbearers included grandsons Jeremy and Daniel Lowenstein, Steven Breslauer, sons-in-law Arnie Lowenstein and Richard Breslauer, and Lanny Jacob. Honorary pallbearers included brother Irvin Labovitch, Al Greenberg, Billy Brownstone, Manley Rusen, Frank Lavitt, Jack Nepon, Wayne Hadad, and Kroft Henrick. Max was pre-deceased by his wife Loretta, brothers Lou and Jack and sisters Rebecca and Ethel.
Many thanks to his care givers from Medox and in particular Joanne, Sid, Tom, Ed and Victor. Thank you to Dr. John Rabson, Dr. Jasmir Nayak and Dr. Piotr Czaykowski. A special thank you to Sandy Slonosly and to his good friend Lydia for their caring and concern.
Donations can be made to the to the Max Labovitch Scholarship Fund at the Rady Jewish Community Center in Winnipeg . The address is 123 Doncaster Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3N2B3 (204-477-7510).