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Morris Wosk, 84; Businessman, Benefactor

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From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Morris Wosk, 84, a Ukrainian immigrant who became one of western Canada’s leading businessmen and philanthropists, died Tuesday in Las Vegas of heart failure.

Wosk estimated that he gave away the equivalent of $30 million in U.S. dollars in his lifetime to institutions ranging from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia to Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was a longtime member of the Board of Trustees of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

Born in Odessa, Ukraine, then part of Russia, he fled with his family to Canada in 1928 to escape rising anti-Semitic persecution.

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At 15 he quit school to work with his father and brother as street peddlers with a horse and cart, acquiring secondhand goods to repair and resell.

In 1932, the Wosk family rented a storefront and set up shop, the first of what became a 12-store chain in British Columbia and Alberta.

With his brother he founded Wosk’s department stores, one of Vancouver’s top retailers in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s. After splitting from his brother, he became a real estate mogul and owned several well-known hotels and apartment complexes in Vancouver.

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