Yossie Rabinovitch spent his entire life in Cote Saint-Luc, Quebec. He married the love of his life, Marilyn Barnes, in the spring of 1967 and they raised three children: Ivy, Lorne, and Angela. Their home was always loud, busy and never without excitement.

Yossie woke up at 4:30 a.m every day for 30 years, driving trucks for Pitt Shoes. Whatever needed doing, Yossie would do it, from driving merchandise to Florida to making early-morning airport runs to even once staving off an armed robbery.

When Yossie started working toward something, nothing could stop him. Years ago, he and Marylin flew across the country to celebrate his grandson’s bris in Calgary. At 6 a.m., his son-in-law Marc heard a scream in the kitchen. He flew out of bed and ran down the stairs.

Died on May 29, 2020
Montreal, QC
Age 84

Standing in the dark was Yossie with a cleanly cut, half-eaten St. Viateur kosher bagel in one hand and a blood-soaked paper towel covering the wound in the other.

“It didn’t matter how many stitches Yossie needed. He wouldn’t let me take him to the hospital until he finished the bagel,” Marc Weil says.

Year after year, despite changes in his family’s life, their traditions endured. Most important to Yossie was celebrating Jewish holidays with his loved ones. In later years, when the family would come back to Cote Saint-Luc to visit, Lorne would pick his father up a diet Pepsi, two Michigan hotdogs with onions, and a poutine from Lafleur. Soon, the mood in the often-sombre lobby at the Maimonides Geriatric Centre would lift into joy, as his children, grandchildren, cousins and friends filled the room.

When family was together and food was involved, Yossie was the happiest man in the world.

Editor’s note: The author is Yossie Rabinovitch’s grandson.

This story was first published in MacLean’s as part of a collaborative project with Canadian journalism schools to document the lives of people who have died from COVID-19. To learn more about the project and to read the other obituaries, click here.

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