William Hechter

My Story...

I have great admiration and respect for my grandparents who left their homes and all that was familiar for an uncertain life across the ocean. They sought a better life for their families and future generations, and sacrificed in so doing.

Among the most caring, loving and decent people I have known are my maternal grandparents, Bessie and Max Guberman. Bessie was born in Putna, Austria and Max in Lubar, Russia. Life was difficult and in 1914 they came to Canada. They set up a small business, got involved in the Jewish community, and made a good home for their children, including my mother Shirley who was born in Winnipeg in 1918.and my uncles Wally and Monty Guberman. They were very bright, just, and faced life optimistically.

My paternal grandparents were Ida (Schachter) and William Hechter. They too left their home which was in Roumania, and made a new life in the United States. My father, Henry Hechter, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1917.

I was born in Winnipeg on April 16, 1947. I have one sister, Roberta Hechter Gowenlock and we grew up at 463 Niagara Street and 803 Oak Street. I had an idyllic childhood, happy days filled with life, the outdoors, great family and friends. My father, who graduated from the University of Minnesota, was a civil engineer and contractor. He was a quiet and dependable presence in my life. He was involved with B'nai Brith, interested in flying and in building projects of all kinds. My mother graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1938 with a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics. She was a dietician, involved in Hadassah, and interested in sports. She was ever so loving, energetic, just ... and beautiful. She passed away in 1970, at only 52 years of age. My parents instilled in me a feeling for the underdog, warmth to all, and a keen appreciation of intangible values. My parents and grandparents were my greatest influences, and now they are my children, and grandchildren.

I attended Brock Corydon Elementary, River Heights Junior High and Grant Park High School. Life revolved around family and friends. I enjoyed all sports, particularly baseball and football, and the game of chess. I belonged to B'nai Brith Youth, and travelling to Israel helped solidify my Jewish identity. Some of my fondest memories are of summers at Clear Lake with my grandparents, parents, sister, and cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends

Following high school, I attended the University of Manitoba and Harvard Law School, where I graduated with a Masters of Law. My time as a law clerk to Chief Justice Samuel Freedman greatly influenced my career. For the most part, my practice has been as a criminal law defender, representing impoverished clients.

In 1975, I married Linda Herschman from Minneapolis, and moved to Toronto in 1976. We have two beautiful daughters, Sloane Hechter Freeman, born in 1977, and Brooke Hechter Yasskin, born in 1980. Linda and I are further blessed with two grandchildren, Henry Jack Freeman and Sammy Max Freeman. Linda is a teacher and our daughter Brooke followed in her footsteps and teaches pre-kindergarten at Bialik Hebrew School in Toronto. Our daughter Sloane is a pediatrician at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. We are so proud of our children and so fortunate now with our two grandsons. If lucky, we will be blessed with more.

Over the years I have been involved with a number of community and professional organizations. Of special interest were Canadian Friends of the Israel Museum, Yad Vashem and the Mt. Sinai Hospital. I also enjoy film, art, and travel, and still spend summer days at Clear Lake, Manitoba.

Winnipeg, and Winnipeggers maintain a most special place in my heart and mind, with memories most satisfying.

The Endowment Book of Life provides an opportunity to give back to the community that raised me, and to leave this marker for my children, grandchildren and future generations of my family. I wish them all health, justice, good values, and the joy that comes from kindness to others.