ALS Research Champion Passes Away
James (Jim) Hunter, an enthusiastic supporter of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research at the University of Toronto, passed away February 18, 2016. He had waged a courageous seven-year battle with the condition, which is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
After being diagnosed with ALS in 2009, Hunter dedicated his life to raising funds for research through The James Hunter Family ALS Initiative. To date, it has raised over $5 million to support research at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and U of T’s Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases.
“Jim was committed to finding a cure to ALS, if not for him, then for the others who may face it in the future,” said Professor Janice Robertson, who researches the disease at the Tanz Centre. “He provided financial support to our lab, but also a reminder of the urgency of our work.” Robertson’s lab is named after Hunter.
Hunter was born in Claresholm, Alberta and grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. After studying at the University of Victoria and the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University, he began his career at Deloitte & Touche. He went on to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer of Mackenzie Financial and founder of NexGen Financial. He was recognized for his achievements with his election to Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in 2000, with the Distinguished Service Award from Ivey in 2001, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Victoria in 2007, and the Career Achievement Award at the Canadian Investment Awards in 2011.
He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Heather, his three daughters, Sandra (Michael Berkheimer), Margaret (Dennis Snopkowski), and Elizabeth (Douglas Baerlein), and his granddaughter, Evelyn. In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to The James Hunter Family ALS Initiative at the Tanz Centre.
"Jim really was an amazing man: courageous and brilliant. Along with his remarkable wife Heather and family, Jim had a big impact on me and the members of my lab. I’m going to miss him," said Robertson.
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