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Saul Rifkin, a pioneering educator and gentle, kind man who was beloved by his family, friends and countless students, died April 3, 2021. Saul always stressed the importance of education and was dedicated to his profession. It was not unusual for former students to approach him and his family decades after they left the classroom and to thank him for his indelible impact on their lives and success in their careers. What they saw during the course of a year, his family and friends experienced for 90 years. Born in Selkirk, Manitoba, the youngest child of Harry Rifkin and Freda Rifkin, Saul was a devoted and loving husband to his wife Barbara for 60 years until her passing in 2016.
As a young child Saul, along with his sister Rose and brother Max, worked endless hours assisting in the family store in Selkirk, went to United College where he received his BA and then went to graduate school at the University of Minnesota. He furthered his education at the University of Manitoba where he received his BA in education and taught chemistry, mathematics and English as a second language in the Transcona School Division. He pioneered several innovative programs including annual science fairs, an adult education evening school and a school based Air Cadet program. He then served as principal in two elementary schools and Transcona Collegiate High School. He met Barbara Permack in 1956, who became the love of his life, and both graduated from University of Manitoba. They had two sons, Gerald and Martin, raising them on the belief that the most important things in the world were family, education and unforgettable experiences,
Saul was a Mason, baseball coach, an avid bridge player, toast master, and always loved a good story and joke. He loved taking his family on many summer camping trips throughout the US and Canada and the car was always filled with joy, sing-songs and laughter. He loved his summer campsite at Spruce Sands north of Gimli, Manitoba where the family, and friends would spend many wonderful summers together. He loved entertaining with his wife Barbara and would have many themed parties for their friends. After their retirement, he and wife Barbara embarked on a new adventure: becoming escorts for tour groups on vacations across the globe.
He took many trips to visit his family in Toronto and Gainesville, Florida. Saul is survived by Gerald, Martin (Margo), grandchildren, Jesse, Jada, Nicole and Eric, and many other family members and friends.
The burial took place April 6, 2021 and his funeral was livestreamed on the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue website.
Donations may be sent to The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg or to a charity of the giver's choice.
As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Apr 06, 2021
Condolences & Memories (11 entries)
Our sincerest condolences to Saul's family. We taught with Saul at General Wolfe and can attest that he was so very much liked and respected by both his students and colleagues. He was a joy to all with his humour and caring ways. After retirement, we formed a Breakfast Club and Saul would regale us with jokes and also stories of his family of whom he was immensely proud. He and Barbara were an inspiration to both of us with their zest for life and adventure. Saul truly was an admirable person and we were blessed to have him as a friend. - Posted by: Carol Campbell and Andy Krentz (friends) on: Apr 09, 2021
Mr. Rifkin was my high school principal for three years. He had the unique ability to see your hidden talents and abilities. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to have a one on one coffee with him before the pandemic. He made the world a better place. I will miss him. - Posted by: John Evan (Past student) on: Apr 08, 2021
My condolences on your loss. What a lovely description of the long and obviously happy life he lived! - Posted by: Wendy Joy Bird (co-worker of Gerald) on: Apr 08, 2021
Gerald, so sorry for your loss. When I met your father, he was sensitive and insightful with a strong will for life and his love for his family really shone through. Daniel and I wish you a long life. Joyce Klug - Posted by: Joyce Klug (Friend) on: Apr 08, 2021
In life, you remember those that had an impact on you. Mr. Rifkin was my 1st principal at Regent Park. The elementary school was a great place to go. From the old auditorium to the huge fields for play, it brought us together. Under his leadership, I found my best friends in life there. Healthy bonds. Mr. Rifkin was a comforting leader, and his passion for education clearly was demonstrated by all the teachers under his guidance. My condolences to his family and friends. - Posted by: Darren Olsen (student) on: Apr 07, 2021
Recently I was thinking about people that had been kind to me and made a difference in my life. The name Saul Rifkin immediately came to mind. So I was absolutely devastated when I opened the paper today and saw his name in the obituary. Many years ago, when I was just embarking on my career, he gave me a chance. When he hired me, he encouraged me to try new things and said he would support me no matter what. I will always be grateful to him for taking a chance on me. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family, friends, and the many students he positively impacted. - Posted by: Gina Petty (former teacher) on: Apr 06, 2021
Mr. Rifkin was my principal at Regent Park School from kindergarten to grade 5. I remember being devastated when he was transferred to a new school before my grade 6 year. He was so kind and caring; he made the school a warm and inviting place to be and I loved school because of him. He has always held a special place in my heart. Such a wonderful, wonderful man. - Posted by: Pamela Okano (Student) on: Apr 06, 2021
Gerald, Martin, and families, Our thoughts are with you at this sad time. We were friends with your parents for many years and know how kind and genuine both your Mother and Father were. - Posted by: Kathryn and Jim Patterson (friends) on: Apr 06, 2021
Mr. Rifkin was my home room teacher, grade 12 at TCI. He was warm person and treated everyone the same. He snagged two of us to handle the parent - teacher chat scheduling. He also hosted a year end class horse back riding and BBQ at his home. My first ever charcoal grilled burger. He was one of the good guys. May his memory be eternal. - Posted by: Rick Graboski (Student ) on: Apr 06, 2021
I would like to firstly express my deepest condolences to Mr. Rifkin's family and friends. I had the beautiful opportunity to be able to be taught by Mr. Rifkin. He had a big heart that he didn't mind sharing to his students and his work. And after reading his obituary, he also loved his family and dear friends. He made everybody's day very special. He always had that warm smile. What I loved about him was his humility. He always had these warm sweaters that he would wear and it made me feel secure because to me a person wearing a sweater is a person who had a warm personality and a very gentle heart. He was always willing to listen and help. I will admit math was never my favorite subject. But with him teaching it, he always made it fun. If you couldn't grasp it, he was willing to take time out of his "me time" to explain it in the best way he knew how and that was with a warm smile and gentle soul. He was in love with teaching. I can tell when people are genuine and true to their feelings. He had the awesome affect that when he spoke, you just had to listen because he knew what he was saying and that he made sure that he got his point across. I only knew him as a teacher in Math. So I only got to see him in that light. But every student that I saw that left his classroom was always smiling and not a single complaint. He to me was one of the gentlest giants whom I looked up to in my life. He was larger than life. I was surprised that he died at the age of 90, because that would mean that he was already in his 60s when he taught me Math. He was resilient and full of life, one couldn't ever imagine he was 62. Anyhow, I'm here to say thank you Mr. Rifkin for giving me the opportunity to express my feelings and the opportunity to be one of your grateful students who knew you as not only as a teacher but a father figure. My heart goes out to his family and friends during this time of mourning. Take care always, Joenel - Posted by: Joenel Paraton (Former student in General Wolfe) on: Apr 06, 2021
Mr. Rifkin was my principal at Regent Park Elementary School, and even though it’s been 48 years since I left there, I have never forgotten how kind and professional he was. A great man! - Posted by: Glenn Rand (Student) on: Apr 06, 2021
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