The death of a young family man, passionate hockey fan, and community leader committed to good works, Richard Tapper, has made an impact on his hometown of Winnipeg, Canada.
Tapper, a chiropractor and prominent figure in the western Canadian city’s Jewish community, died at 35 on May 19, less than five months after being diagnosed with cancer. He left behind a young family and many friends who have expressed their sadness about his passing.
A local newspaper wrote: “Richard Tapper was one of those golden young men, blessed with a lovely family, a successful career, a community to which he was deeply committed and a sense of joy that spilled over into every aspect of his life.”
A sports blogger in Winnipeg wrote: I cannot possibly sum up his life or what he meant to his friends with a few snippets. Suffice it to say he was simply an amazing person who had a positive impact on people, someone who has left us way too quickly. He will be missed.
“The passing of Richard Tapper is a devastating loss for the Jewish community,” said Bob Freedman, CEO at the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. “Richard was a natural leader whose loving character and selfless generosity was an inspiration to all who knew him.”
Tapper had been set to receive the Winnipeg Jewish Federation’s Harry Silverberg Young Leader of Distinction Award for his volunteer work in the Jewish community, in school, at camp, as a member of the Combined Jewish Appeal, as author of two books and as head of the United Way’s chiropractic division.
The ceremony went ahead four days after his death. Freedman called Tapper’s community work "incredible. He wanted to give back. He was a unique individual. He did a million things people don’t do in a lifetime. He always sort of related to people who were down on their luck."
A 2004 article in a chiropractic trade publication detailed Tapper’s volunteer work at a Winnipeg mission:
In a month, as many as 350 street people — the untouchables of modern Canadian society — visit Tapper at the Main Street soup kitchen/food bank. With trained hands, a portable table and a subluxation station, which monitors autonomic nervous system function, Tapper represents a positive and consistent presence. "When you offer hope to someone, that gives them something to strive for too," he observes.
Tapper was lauded last year by the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba for becoming the youngest participant in its Endowment Book of Life, essentially a commitment to leave a bequest to the foundation and support its work while you’re still alive. Tapper signed it before he was diagnosed with cancer. In a letter posted online, he wrote:
Our son Gabriel was born in 2011. As his parents, Lauren and I plan to share our values about Jewish living, tzedakah and community service…..
My generation needs to grab hold of Jewish life in our community and help build a meaningful future steeped in Yiddishkeit, creativity, and pride. I want my infant son and all of his peers to benefit from vibrant institutions like I did.
The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Write to the Eulogizer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the Eulogizer on Twitter @TheEulogizer