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Authority record

Simpson, Bernie

  • Person
  • May 31, 1942 -


Bernie Simpson was born May 31, 1942, the only child of George Simpson and Sarah Nissenbaum. George Simpson and Sarah Nissenbaum separated when Bernie was 5 years old. George Simpson then moved to Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, and Sarah Nissenbaum stayed with Bernie in Vancouver. Bernie lived most of his childhood with his mother in Vancouver, attending General Wolfe Elementary School, and then King Edward High School. Bernie then attended the University of British Columbia, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Social Work, and a Bachelor of Law. Bernie married a nurse named Lee Purkin on December 14, 1975. Together they have three children; Annie, Jory, and Samantha. Bernie was the MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview between 1991-1995.

Bernie Simpson is considered to be one of the leading personal injury lawyers in British Columbia. After graduating from the University of British Columbia law school, Bernie Simpson founded Simpson & Company, one of the first Vancouver law firms to restrict practice to automobile accidents. In 2001, Bernie formed a partnership with a well-known personal injury lawyer, Anthony Thomas, and the firm became Simpson, Thomas & Associates. In 2014 Dairn Shane and Stephen Yung also became Partners in the firm.

After establishing his reputation as an ICBC personal injury lawyer and settling thousands of ICBC claims; with the emphasis on catastrophic cases including brain injury cases and quadriplegia and paraplegia, in 1991, he was elected to the British Columbia Legislature for the Constituency of Vancouver-Fraserview. During his term as a Provincial Member of the Legislature he set out to ensure that Bike Helmet Legislation, which would be the most progressive in Canada, was enacted into law. The determination of enacting that Legislation was influenced by a case that he worked on before being elected where a young girl suffered a serious brain injury while riding her bicycle in Surrey without wearing a bike helmet. In order to ensure that the victims of car accidents have the best possible rehabilitation, Bernie has traveled to many parts of the world to setup rehabilitation programs.

Bernie pioneered the use of Structured Settlements in British Columbia which guarantees, for those catastrophically injured, monthly tax free payments for the rest of their lives.

While a Provincial Member of the Legislature, Bernie was a Chairperson of the Select Standing Committee for Finance, Crown Corporations and Government Services of the Legislature. He was also a sitting member of the Select Standing Committee for Economic Development, Science, Labor, Training, and Technology, as well as on the Board of Directors of the B.C. Trade Development Corporation. Additionally, Bernie was assigned by Premier Harcourt to promote trade with the Asia Pacific region, including India and Latin America.

Bernie has also been an active member of the Vancouver business community. He has been a member of the Vancouver Board of Trade, as well as a member of the Hong Kong-Canada Business Association, Canada-Korea Business Association, Canada-Japan Society, and the Canadian Taiwan Trade Association.

Bernie has actively participated in the betterment of the Vancouver community, having served as Chairman of the Canadian Cancer Society for the Vancouver campaign, the Director of the Canadian Cancer Society (B.C. and Yukon Division), the Chairperson for the Louis Brier Home for the Elderly and Hospital Building Campaign, the Director of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, Co-Chairman for the Finance Committee for Camp Miriam, and an Executive Member of UNICEF. Additionally, Bernie Chaired the Mayor’s Campaign for Famine Relief led by former Vancouver mayor and premier, Mike Harcourt, between 1984-1985. Bernie was also an active member of: Lawyers for Social Responsibility, Greenpeace, Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., and the Advisory Committee for Canadian Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

For nearly 8 years, Bernie had a weekly radio program in the Indo-Canadian community.

In recognition for his efforts in enacting the Bike Helmet Legislation, Bernie he was awarded the prestigious Eloisa deLorenzo International Award by the International Brain Injury Association in Washington, DC.

In 1984, Bernie was honored by Camp Miriam for his work in fundraising to build a new camp.

In 1985, Bernie was awarded the Red Cross Society Citation for organizing the famine relief campaign in B.C.

In 1986, as a founding member of the Trial Lawyers Association in British Columbia, Bernie honored by Trial Lawyers for his lifelong contribution to the legal profession.

In 1987, Bernie was honored by the Canadian Cancer Society for heading the fund raising and development campaign of an educational program for the multicultural communities of B.C.

In 1988, Bernie was honored by the Indo-Canadian community for the development of an educational program to prevent cancer in the Indo-Canadian community throughout the province of B.C.

In 1990, Bernie was awarded the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest award for volunteerism for his work with various charitable causes and for his activities in the multi-cultural community, particularly the Indo-Canadian and Chinese communities. He also received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, Golden Jubilee Medal, and Commemorative Medal for the 125th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.

In 1991, Bernie was honored by S.U.C.C.E.S.S. (United Chinese Community Enrichment Services), and made a life member, for the work he had done in the Chinese community.

Snider, Irving

  • Person
  • 1903-2002

Irving Snider, officially born Isaac Schneider, was born in London, England in 1903 to Annie and Jacob Snider. Annie was born in Warsaw, while Jacob was born in Odessa. Irving’s parents met and married in London sometime around the turn of the century. After the birth of Irving, the Snider’s stayed in England for two years. During that time period, Irving’s sister Jeanette was born. In 1905, the Snider family sailed to Vancouver.

Irving attended Strathcona School and Britannia High School. While in High School, he joined the cadets. Irving also attended cheder (after school Hebrew classes), and in 1916 he was bar mitzvahed at the old synagogue. While growing up, Irving attended the “Y” camp at Hopkins Landing.

Irving graduated from Britannia High School in 1919 at the top of his class, and he enrolled at the University of British Columbia. During his second year he became a member of the UBC Junior Hockey Team. While on vacation with his mother and sister, he visited the North Pacific College, a dental college in Portland, Oregon. Although he was only 15, he decided to enroll at the dental college in 1920. Irving’s childhood friend, Robert Franks, was also at the college, and Irving and Robert graduated together in 1924.

After graduating, Robert and Irving heard that there were no dentists in the Yukon, so they decided to try their luck. In 1925, Robert and Irving headed to the Yukon with only $200 each in their pockets. According to Irving in his autobiography, when they reached Whitehorse they only had $1 left between them. After a long journey and several stops, including Juneau, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon, Robert and Irving arrived in Dawson City, Yukon where they stayed until Robert left for California in 1937 and Irving left for Vancouver three years later.

During WWII Irving served for four years as a Captain with the Dental Corp. He mainly served in Vancouver, but he also spent time in Trois-Rivières, Quebec and Prince Rupert. Irving was discharged in 1945. After the war, he bought a practice in the old Medical Dental Building.

Irving met his wife Phyliss Reta Nemetz through her father Harry Nemetz who was one of his patients. Irving and Phyliss married in 1947 in Victoria at the Empress Hotel. Phyliss was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on April 22, 1921 to parents Harry and Ann Nemetz. Phyliss was a journalist, although she spent time in New York working in advertising. When she returned to Vancouver she continued her career in journalism as well as working for Godfrey’s Travel Agency and with her father in real estate.

Irving and Phyliss spent much of their time traveling around the world, including spending time on every continent. On many of their trips they played golf, including playing at the famous St. Andrew’s course.

Irving and Phyliss moved to Whytecliff in West Vancouver where they lived for forty years. Irving and Phyliss did not have any children, but doted on their beloved dogs. Phyliss was also known for her love of animals, and was known for feeding and befriending wild raccoons in their backyard (as seen in many of the slides).

They were known for their philanthropy, including giving a major contribution to the new Har-El building. Phyliss was also an active Hadassah member and she donated all of her real estate commissions she earned to Hadassah. In 1994, Irving and Phyliss established the Phyliss and Irving Snider Foundation, a private charitable foundation, for which Louis Brier Home and Hospital was a major beneficiary. Gifts from the Foundation have supported Hillel, Jewish Family Service Agency, the Jewish Community Foundation, The Jewish Historical Society of BC, Hadassah-Wizo, Ben Gurion University, the Technion in Israel and the Vancouver Talmud Torah school.

Phyliss passed away on July 14, 1999. The couple was married for 52 years. Bequests from Phyliss’ estate have gone to several organizations including the United Way and Children’s Hospital. Irving passed away in January 17, 2002 at the approximate age of 99.

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