Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Ruth Miriam Bernstein “Babs” Asper (1933-2011)

Philanthropist, community activist.

Born at Winnipeg on 24 May 1933, daughter of Maurice and Sara Bernstein, she attended Grosvenor School, Robert H. Smith School, and Kelvin High School. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba.

She was an active volunteer for many organizations including the Age and Opportunity Centre and the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council. As a co-founder and Chair of The Asper Foundation, she advocated for support of health, education, culture, human rights and community development in Canada and Israel. She was especially active in fundraising on behalf of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

She was active in promoting and awarding student scholarships for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and she served on the Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education. She was an active patron of the arts in Manitoba, supporting the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and the Manitoba Opera. She also served on the Board of the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre. In 2008, she created The Babs Asper Professorship in Jazz Performance at the University of Manitoba. In recognition of her meritorious community service, she received the President’s Award from the Winnipeg Press Club, and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Herziliya Interdisciplinary Centre in Israel.

With husband Israel Asper, she had three children: Leonard Asper, Gail Asper, and David Asper.

She died at Winnipeg on 30 July 2011.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 2 August 2011.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 27 June 2015

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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