Stories of remarkable men and women

Elizabeth Cran
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Pilgrim Souls by Jim Lotz (Formac, $22.95) may be something of a surprise to the many readers who know him as a columnist and writer of many books on the Arctic, community development and other aspects of Canadian life.  

It’s a double biography — that of himself and his wife Pat — and especially of their life together after she was diagnosed with dementia, and then Alzheimer’s. She died in 2012. The whole book is a tribute to Pat, though their lives are so closely entwined, a book could not be written about one without telling about the other.

A Lucky Life by Richard Goldbloom (also by Formac, $29.95) is the story of a well-known Jewish pediatrician and his remarkable wife Ruth.

Both these couples lived for a time in Montreal and later settled in Halifax. Ruth, too, predeceased her husband in 2012. Those are the only points they seem to have in common. However, what all four people did was make the world a better place, each according to his or her specific talents.

Both Jim Lotz and his Pat grew up in England. They lived through the Second World War, and in the 1950s they emigrated to Canada. When they met, Pat was training to become a librarian, while Jim was preparing to work in the Arctic. They fell in love immediately, and remained so for the rest of their lives.

Pat, like Jim, developed in several directions after her initial training. She worked as a magazine editor, wrote a book — an historical biography — edited local newspapers, and more.

She was still working in her 70s, when memory loss gradually developed into Alzheimer’s. Jim was no better equipped than anyone else — or was he — to look after someone with that terrible disease, but he did his best, and they stayed together, often happily, almost until the day Pat died.

While this book will useful to people in the same position, it should appeal above all to those who need to be encouraged in love and care at all times.

Richard Goldbloom’s story is full of fun, relatives, and advice based on experience, kindness, and empathy with children. In addition, it tells of the many famous musicians he got to know, and the accomplishments of his wife Ruth.

She was from Cape Breton, and combined two unusual talents — tap-dancing and fundraising, both of which she carried on into her 80s.

Don’t miss this, it's a really great autobiography.

Elizabeth Cran is a freelance writer who writes a book review column for The Guardian. To comment or to send her books to review, write her at 111 Sydney St., Apt. 17, Saint John, N.B., E2L 2L8, or call her at 506-693-5498.

Organizations: Formac, The Guardian

Geographic location: Arctic, Montreal, Halifax England Canada Cape Breton Saint John

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