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Publication: Globe & Mail add link
Issue: September 25, 2007
Title: Lives Lived - Doris Gould
Web Link: link


September 25, 2007

Doris Gould would never tell you how old she was. Her age was the first thing many people asked after her passing. Her long life was a testament to her tenacity and her refusal to let anyone or anything, even death, get the better of her.

Doris was one of 10 children born to Robert and Sarah Steiman. She loved to recount her memories of her childhood years in Winnipeg, especially of working at her father's store where she acquired and honed the business acumen that served her well throughout her life. She believed in "less talk and more action."

At 35, she married Winnipeg businessman Sam Gould, a printing press owner, real-estate owner and avid gambler. They moved to Vancouver, where Doris and Sam raised their son, Lanny. Sam died in 1961 of a heart attack in Las Vegas and Doris suddenly found herself alone with a young child. She took over her husband's business affairs. When it came to getting things done, as Doris liked to say, she didn't stop to think - she just did it. Doris never remarried.

Doris considered fate had cheated her out of what she always felt was her true calling - singing. As a teenager, she auditioned for a famous Italian impresario - he was so taken with her ability that he arranged to see her parents the next day. The sudden death of her aunt that night meant that the meeting was cancelled - that was the end of her dream. However, she always had a grand piano in her home and finally, at 91, after interviewing accompanists and hiring a sound engineer, she recorded three discs of Broadway melodies and Yiddish tunes.

She was well known for her generosity toward the community. In Winnipeg and then in Vancouver she was involved with several Jewish organizations, often in a leadership capacity. And her heart was always with her family.

If there was one thing that impressed most people about Doris, it was her chutzpah - her zest for life, her passion for everything. She hardly slept - waking up at 4 a.m. to read the papers, column by column, and debating what she read with those she met during the day. She frequently filled her table with friends and family for dinners, thinking nothing of cooking for 20 people. She didn't walk - she charged. Doris refused to acknowledge she was getting older and instead chose to carpe diem.

In 2005, at the age of 96, Doris reluctantly moved into an assisted-living facility. She complained that in her ward they were all too old and doddering, so she wandered the halls visiting friends and making new ones. Letting go of life, of the fire that drove her, was probably one of the hardest things she ever did.

David Stambler is Doris's cousin.

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