Cote St. Luc councillor Ruth Kovac passed away Oct. 1 after a lengthy battle with cancer, at the age of 69.
Kovac was first elected to council in 1990, serving until the city was merged with Hampstead and Montreal West in 2002, and then she resumed her place on council when the demergers took place in 2006.
Kovac also worked with lawyer Harold Staviss and we at The Suburban, with much success, in lobbying commercial enterprises and Quebec government departments to post signs and communicate in English with the province’s anglophone population, as allowed by Quebec’s language laws. As late as Sept. 24, Kovac posted on Facebook criticism of Wendy’s for sending out French-only mailings to anglophone areas of Montreal.
“We are heartbroken by the loss of someone who gave so much of her life to public service, as a volunteer at Emergency Medical Services, the Mt. Sinai Auxiliary, co-chair of the Côte Saint Luc demerger committee, and her years on the Côte Saint-Luc City Council,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “She fought with fierce determination for the causes she believed in. She was one of a kind. On behalf of my Côte Saint-Luc family, and my own family, I extend my heartfelt condolences to Ruth’s husband Peter and their children and grandchildren.”
Numerous tributes to Kovac poured in.
“Standing up for English rights without Ruth will never be the same, but in her honour the fight will continue as I know she would want,” Staviss said. “Although we had success at encouraging retailers to use English on signage, advertising and the like, the greatest accomplishment was that Ruth, Peter, Aviva and I became great and amazing friends. Rest in peace my dear friend, you will definitely be missed.”
“I was so very impressed by her energy, drive and devotion to so many causes,” Elaine Yagod-Brownstein, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein’s wife, wrote on Facebook. “Through the years and the many battles we fought together, we became a family.”
Councillor Dida Berku, also first elected to council in 1990, said Kovac was “articulate, thoughtful and a great debater — her constituents were always her primary concern.
“Fiercely loyal to her city and community, she was totally devoted to the well-being of all its residents,” Berku added. “Today we are heartbroken and inspired to continue Ruth’s legacy.”
“I lost a mentor today and our Côte Saint-Luc community lost a warrior of a politician, activist and leader,” wrote CSL councillor Mitch Kujavsky. “We’ll miss you Ruth, and will honour your memory by continuing your life’s work.”
Brownstein, along with Mount Royal MP and former CSL Mayor Anthony Housefather and former CSL councillor Glenn Nashen, wrote that “nobody cared more [than Kovac] about the community she lived in. We have lost a leading light of our community.”
“A woman of valour who we all will miss terribly,” wrote D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum.
“I am still in shock over this sudden news,” CSL councillor Mike Cohen wrote on his blog. “We all feared we would lose Ruth soon. But it came too quickly for us to accept it.”
“Ruth set the bar high for all councillors and showed us the real meaning of community service,” wrote CSL councillor Steven Erdelyi. Councillor Oren Sebag wrote that Kovac “represented dignity and devotion in the most exemplary way.” Councillor Sidney Benizri expressed condolences to Kovac’s family.
CSL councillor David Tordjman wrote that Kovac was a “strong defender for the city, a volunteer for countless city and non-city programs— she was always there to make a difference.”
CSL council regular Irving Itman wrote that Kovac was a “very smart, strong, logical, fair minded person, always looking forward to the quality of life and well-being of all the people in CSL and beyond.”
The Executive, Board and Members of the Auxiliary Mount Sinai Hospital printed a notice expressing their “deepest and most heartfelt sympathy” to Kovac’s family.
“She was a very strong and lovely woman and will be greatly missed,” Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg and his wife Doris wrote on the Paperman website.
“Ruth was a great person, with a lot of energy, a lot of drive and very devoted to her community,” St. Laurent Mayor Alan DeSousa told The Suburban. “I always had a great admiration for how much she cared for the residents of Côte St. Luc. She will sorely be missed. Her residents have a huge loss to deal with.”
“Ruth was truly dedicated to her constituency, her municipality and a proud Quebecer and Canadian.” wrote Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand on Twitter.
Ruth Kovac was simply a wonderful person,” Montreal West councillor Dino Mazzone wrote on Facebook. “She believed in kindness — not only with words but through deeds. And that is the greatest legacy one can leave with those left behind.”