Memorable Manitobans: Ben Zaidman (1922-2008)
Labour leader, community activist.
Born at Winnipeg on 29 October 1922, one of six children born to Goldie Sitner and Harry Zaidman, he left home at 15 and worked as a general store clerk in the Manitoba towns of Hodgson, Griswold, and Virden. In 1941 he joined the RCAF and served as a radio operator in Whitehorse, Yukon. He was discharged in 1946 as a Master Sergeant. He returned to Winnipeg and in 1947 married his childhood sweetheart, Nellie Merkel. He had learned the electrical trade from his father and began working at the CNR Transcona Shops. He operated a crane, repaired equipment on the benches, worked as a foreman and finally retired as the Health and Safety Officer in 1987.
He served as President of Local 409 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and served on the Winnipeg Labour Council and the Manitoba Federation of Labour. He worked on Home and School Associations, and served as president of the provincial association. He helped establish the library for the former City of West Kildonan. Elected to the Seven Oaks School Board in 1968, he served on every committee and position over the next three decades, including four terms as Chairman. He helped build many new schools and develop important new programs for students. The community recognized his contributions by naming the Educational Resource Centre in his honour in 1999.
He graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1989. He served as President of the Garden City Chapter of B’nai Brith, a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, General Monash Branch, and the Transcona Masons Lodge. He served on the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith and chaired the Manitoba Public Schools Finance Board. He was Chairman of Monash Manor Housing and served on the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
He died at Winnipeg on 5 June 2008.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 7 June 2008.
“Manitobans’ Legacy a Better Province,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 January 2009, page B2.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 30 March 2016
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