Lori-Ann Zemanovich, Joseph Zemanovich’s youngest daughter, remembers that when she and her siblings were kids the only show they were allowed to watch over Sunday night dinner was 60 Minutes.

Joseph would stop the show to have his children comment on society’s problems and how to fix them. He was incredibly passionate about helping others and wanted to ingrain that in his children, Lori-Ann says.

Died on April 20, 2020
Montreal, QC

Age 83

“Dad was the epitome of a civil servant.” He lived his life with a profound but quiet faith. “Dad never preached the gospel,” Lori-Ann says. “He did it with his actions.”

Joseph was born in Montreal in 1938, and grew up to become a teacher. He’d go on to be the first principal of St-Edmund Elementary School at the age of 27, eventually becoming school board commissioner and then director of student services at Vanier College.

Joseph dedicated his life to education, with 54 years of service to the school board. Joseph also dedicated 59 years of marriage to his wife, Geraldine, whom he met in teachers college. They had three children and four grandchildren.

Joseph spent his life as an advocate for the underdog. He was a champion of peoples’ gifts, and always wanted to see people excel. He believed deeply that the richness of a life isn’t measured in dollars and cents.

“Your personal wealth has nothing to do with the assets you’ve acquired,” Lori Ann says. “Your only measure of wealth is how much you’ve enriched the lives of others.”

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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