Toby (Klasser) Marantz

My Story...

Although I left Winnipeg to move to California when I was 12 years old, in my heart my home has always been Winnipeg. Those roots have been very important to me, shaping ethical values, a giving nature, and a love of family.

I was born on May 22, 1937 and began life in our family home at 232 Inkster Blvd. in Winnipeg's north end. My father, Joseph Klasser, was born in Odessa, Russia and came to Canada with his siblings and his mother Toba, after whom I am named, in 1916. His father died in Russia. My father had several businesses on Main Street, across from the City Hall. They included a pawn shop called "Western Mail Order," a menswear store named "Toby's", and a building that housed the beginnings of the "Winnipeg Ballet". He had a strong sense of fairness, was a kind and gentle man, and family was very important to him. He always kept in close contact with his siblings, Moishe Klasser, Oyser Klasser, Jack Klasser, Rae Fleishman, and Chia Booke. He was an avid gin player and was a founder of the Montefiore Club.

My mother, Esther Mantell, was also born in Odessa, Russia. She came to Canada with her parents Leah (Rothstein) and Moishe Nachum, and her siblings Joe Mantell, Betty Grand, Oscar Mantell, Harry Mantell, and Clara Frankelson in 1914. They had come from Zhitomer, Ukraine and decided to leave Russia when the pogroms threatened their way of life. My grandparents lived across the street from us, and I remember their very orthodox ways. My grandfather layed tefillin and studied Torah daily. The word that comes to my mind when I think of my grandmother is "sweetness". My mother was a risk taker, a pathfinder, courageous, and giving. She worked as a secretary/bookkeeper for the United Fruit Company before she married my father. She was very involved in the community — Hadassah, the Golden Age Club, and the National Council of Jewish Women. She loved to play tennis, bridge, and mah jong.

Before our family moved to California, I attended Nellie Brodofsky's pre-school on Matheson Ave., and then the Luxton School. I have wonderful memories of figure skating, swimming, B'nai Brith Camp, and of course Winnipeg Beach where I rode the horses, fished from the pier, and went to the amusement park at the boardwalk playing the games and going on the rides. My Jewish identity really took root at Peretz Shul studying Hebrew and taking long walks with the family to the Shaarey Zedek Shul on Matheson Ave. My best lifelong friend was Carole Kirshrot-Berney who will forever live in my heart. Life also revolved all my wonderful cousins, Toby and Hershey Fleishman, Harvey and Rita Klasser, Eddy Shell, Evelyn Rayman, Bessie Shell, Gertie Knelman, Rose Baker, Sarah Hochman, Irving and Ida Klasser, Bessie Bilker, Alvin and Phyllis Mantell, Sydney Grand, Sally Frankelson, Corrine Hochman and Sandra Knelman.

I finished my education in California attending Beverly Hills High School, the University of California at Berkeley, and graduating from U.C.L.A. I have had a fulfilling career as a psycho-therapist, a real estate agent, and purchased and remodeled more than 20 houses using my creativity.

In 1957 I married Winnipegger Phil Marantz, whose family was from Winnipeg. We had two daughters, Nancy Marantz-Ross, a successful real estate agent (she just sold O.J.'s house) and Pam Marantz, an attorney, like her father. We have four grandchildren, Tracey, Lisa, Jack and Eric.

I married Paul Rothman in 1987. He has four children and five grandchildren. For forty years he has worked for Associated Hosts restaurants and hotel chain. He is now volunteering on the board of the Marina City Counseling Center and is playing golf to match his scores with his age.

I have enjoyed a variety of volunteer and leisure activities. I served as the head of the Psychology division for the Jewish Federation, was vice-president of the Karen group of Hadassah, and worked as a therapist at Beit T'Shuvah, a residential treatment centre for Jewish teens and adults with addictions. My husband and I were founders of the Society of American Friends of Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I enjoy creative writing and have published two books titled "Panic Survival Guide" and "Panic Survival Guide for Kids", and now publishing "Ageing without Panicking". I am a Life Master in bridge, study in a woman's weekly torah group, and have given up tennis for yoga and walking.

My day-to-day philosophy is to make the most out of each day and live life to the fullest. This is somewhat dictated by the constant theme of illness that runs through my life. Our move to California was necessary because of my mother's health. Once we moved here my father became ill. I have had numerous health challenges including brain surgeries and am presently undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. However, I do not wish to be remembered for the challenges, but for being courageous, honest, strong, and a risk taker.

I have maintained a close relationship with my family in Winnipeg — Toby and Harvey Sawyer, Eddy and Rose Shell, Harold and Brownie Fleishman, Phyllis and Rube Hatskin, Karla and Eugene Marks, Larry Shapiro, Molly Shapiro, Evelyn Rayman, Syd and Carol Grand. My children continue the relationships with their children, although we live so far apart.

My commitment to the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba is in recognition of the invaluable roots that were formed in my early days in Winnipeg's Jewish environment and for the lifelong blessing of the relationships that were formed there. I wish the community well. And I long for peace in Israel.