It is with great sadness the Portigal Family announces the passing, on January 4, 2015, of Arnold Aubrey Portigal, 86 years old.
Arnold was born on March 9, 1928 in Winnipeg, Canada, the only child of Samuel and Genevieve Portigal. He was married for 57 years to his wife Elodee, whom he met in 1958 on a blind date in Los Angeles, California and married three months later. They had two children, Blair Portigal and Leslie Portigal Folz. Leslie sadly passed several years ago following her battle with ovarian cancer.
Arnold was a self-educated man, a man of purpose, an entrepreneur, philanthropist, humanitarian, truly a Renaissance man. In 1963 he sold his commercial finance organization to Walter E Heller International and became President of Walter E Heller Canada, Ltd. During the following five years he developed Heller’s Consumer Finance Facilities throughout Canada. He then left the Heller Organization to again establish his own commercial real estate private equity firm.
Arnold was a passionate advocate of the Jewish community in both Winnipeg and Phoenix and for the State of Israel. He was Deputy Director of the United Israel Appeal, sitting on boards in both Israel and and Canada. He initiated and chaired Project Canada whose sole purpose was to provide immigrant housing to answer the acute need of Russian Jews fleeing to Israel. In 1974 he was awarded by the United Israel Appeal and State of Israel Bonds, receiving the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanity Award. He travelled extensively to Israel during the 1960’s and 1970’s to meet with the likes of Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan and David Ben-Gurion.
In both Canada and The United States, Arnold was deeply involved in community activities which included many political appointments. In Winnipeg he was appointed to the Board of Victoria General Hospital and became Chairman of the Board. During his eight year tenure he completed ground breaking improvements at the hospital. Arnold was then appointed by the Premier of Manitoba and MInister of Health to assume the Post of Chairman of the Manitoba Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation as well as the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology. During his long tenure he negotiated clinical trials of drugs developed by the institute with major US pharmaceutical companies.
When Arnold moved full time to Phoenix, Arizona, he was appointed National Treasurer of the American Cancer Foundation until early 2002 when he decided to step down after determining he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
We are reminded of Dylan Thomas’s words, “Do not go gently into that good night, rage, rage, against the dying of light…” Arnold, like these words, carried with him the quality of spirit and soul that took him fighting until the very end. He will be greatly missed. HIs spirit will forever remain with us.
He is survived by his wife Elodee, son Blair and grandchildren Sydney and Alexa Portigal and Joshua Folz.