Ottawa philanthropist did much while living on borrowed time

To know Zeev Vered was to know a man of fortitude, generosity and firm purpose; to know, in the vernacular he knew so well… a mensch.

From humble beginnings in Germany, Zeev became a member of the Haganah, the Jewish paramilitary force that helped win Israel a victory in the 1948 War of Independence. In the early 1950s, he arrived in Canada to study engineering at McGill University. For a time, he worked as a taxi driver and milkman, but his trajectory soon brought him to Ottawa, where he became a leading builder, one to mention in company with Robert Campeau, Tom Fuller and Pat Gillin.

Never satisfied with material success, Mr. Vered became one of the city’s leading philanthropists. He endowed the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. He established scholarships at Carleton University and McGill. At the University of Ottawa, he endowed a program in Jewish-Canadian studies to focus on the Jewish diaspora in Canada. Many arts groups benefited from the generosity of his foundation.

Mr. Vered died peacefully at the heart institute on Monday. He was 82.

Senator Wilbert Keon, former CEO of the heart institute, said he had met few people with Mr. Vered’s dedication and competence.

“Zeev was a kind of old warrior — a tremendously shrewd businessman and a strong individual who could take on anything and win.”

Photo: Zeev and Sara Vered in 2005