Asper family matriarch dies

Ruth Asper, the wife of the late CanWest founder Israel (Izzy) Asper, has died.

Ruth (Babs) Asper, the wife of the late CanWest founder Israel (Izzy) Asper, has died.

The 78-year-old matriarch, who had been married to Israel for 47 years, died at St. Boniface hospital in Winnipeg Saturday morning.

Israel died of a heart attack in 2003 at age 71.

Ruth was also the mother of David, Gail and Leonard, who stepped down as CEO of CanWest Global Communications in 2010.

Asper was a graduate of the University of Manitoba and was chair and co-founder of The Asper Foundation, a private Canadian charitable foundation based in Winnipeg.

As well, she served on several boards of not-for-profit organizations focused on the arts and education in addition to the boards of the Winnipeg Jewish Board of Education, the Age & Opportunity Centre and the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council. She was also a long-serving Board member for the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre.

Asper was active supporting charities and the arts. The Asper Foundation website listed her involvement in the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Manitoba Opera. 

She recently created a Professorship in Jazz Studies at the Marcel Desautels School of Music at the University of Manitoba.

The family has released a statement asking for privacy as they deal with their loss.