Margaret Juravinski, who with her late husband Charles, revolutionised philanthropy in Hamilton has died at age 91. Her death follows that of her husband by just over a year. Less than two weeks ago Margaret had announced another $5.1 million bequest to McMaster for medical research.
For all their long and productive lives Margaret and Charles Juravinski exemplified the virtues of hard work, straight-shooting and thrift as they operated first a successful construction business and then the Flamboro Downs Harness race track and casino gaming venue. Those qualities that enabled Margaret and Charles to succeed in business and after the sale of the race track, have allowed them to set a standard of philanthropy in health care that will be hard to match anywhere. Starting in 2006, at the time of the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary, Margaret and Charles Juravinski have donated tens of millions of dollars to Hamilton Health care facilities, most notably to the regional cancer centre that bears their name and the Margaret and Charles Juravinski Centre for Integrated Healthcare at St Joseph’s West 5th campus. Their generosity has also been demonstrated in substantial donations to the St Joseph’s Innovation Centre, the St. Joseph’s Villa Residence, McMaster Medical Centre, Hamilton General Hospital, and St Peter’s Hospital. Their donations which spearheaded the Juravinski Hospital reconstruction project, removed tens of thousands of chemotherapy and radiation patients from waiting lists. The plain spoken Charles sees their gifts as a way of thanking all the people who contributed to their success since he came to Hamilton from Saskatchewan at the beginning of World War Two subsequent to the Great Depression. “How can you touch their lives and say thank you?” he told a reporter a few years back, It’s almost impossible, but there’s one way that you can, and that’s through health care. “The most rewarding part of making such contributions, he said, “is hearing how we have helped individual patients. “It is something that is unbelievable.” We have touched many people’s lives through health care and the satisfaction we feel is overwhelming.”
Margaret grew up during the Great Depression in east Hamilton. After the war, she met Charles Juravinski while working at the Woolworth’s counter making sandwiches. She worked alongside her husband, helping manage Flamboro Downs for 30 years until it was sold in 2003.
Throughout all their various business and philanthropic endeavours, Margaret was Charles’ top advisor and partner. While Charles may have been the more vocal of the pair, both he and Margaret made it clear time and time again that the success of their 65-year plus marriage relied heavily on the fact that they were partners: in business, in marriage and in life. Charles always insisted that Margaret’s name come first in signage on the many health care centres that they helped fund.
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