Memorial Tribute: William Switzer Z’L

William Switzer z’l
March 3, 1926 – January 8, 2024

(Vancouver) – William Switzer z’l, born on March 3, 1926, in Calgary, Alberta, passed away at age 97 on January 8, 2024, in Vancouver, British Columbia. William, known by his family and friends as ‘Bill’ or ‘Billy’, had a rich and fulfilling life.

In his early years, William worked for his father at Capital Furniture before venturing out on his own. In 1952, he opened House of Modern in Calgary, where he made a name for himself in the furniture industry.   Bill had a gift for seeing the talent in others. He would say that the success of his business, first in Calgary and then later in Vancouver at William Switzer & Associates, was in part, thanks to the hard work and unique talent each of the interior designers contributed. The Vancouver design community was richer because of the designers who started out at William Switzer and then opened their own thriving firms. In the late 1980s William Switzer & Associates branched out to become the finest reproduction manufacturing firm in North America, sought after by international designers who would gain success by having their collections licensed to be made and sold worldwide by William Switzer & Associates. Throughout his career, Bill established himself as a pioneer in the field of Interior Design and Furniture Manufacturing.

Beyond his professional achievements, Bill was a man of great integrity and kindness. He possessed a warm and welcoming spirit that made everyone feel at ease in his presence. He was known for his generosity and willingness to lend a helping hand to those in need, and to create jobs for them in his business.

Outside of work, William had two passions: family and golf. He enjoyed playing the game for many years until physical limitations prevented him from doing so. In the 1960s, William and his three golf buddies started an annual golf holiday tradition, exploring different courses each year. These trips were filled with laughter, camaraderie and cherished memories.

Above all, Bill was deeply proud of his Jewish heritage and large extended family, which today numbers more than 1700 on the Switzer family tree. The Switzer family reunion, held every five years since 1990, gathers family from all over the world to celebrate in Calgary.

Bill was the son of Meyer z’l and Etta Switzer z’l, modest and humble Polish Jewish immigrants, who taught him many life lessons. He kept the vivid stories of their life in Poland and then in Canada alive by sharing them with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, and his sisters Lily Switzer z’l, Betty Yan z’l, Annie Brodsky z’l, Diane Spindel z’l and Miriam Winston z’l.

William was a dedicated husband to his wife of 75 years, Frances Switzer. He is also survived by his son, Allan Switzer, (Sandy), and his daughter, Renee Switzer. ‘Zaida Bill’ was a proud grandfather to Gabriella Switzer, Julia Switzer, Joshua Switzer, Rabbi Matthew Bellas, (Oksana), Adam Bellas, (Britt), Jennifer Wilds; he was also blessed with five great-grandchildren Yaakov, Maya, Aliza, Jack and Daisy. Bill has many nieces and nephews who also mourn his loss, and he will be deeply missed by his family, friends and all who had the pleasure of knowing him.

A funeral service was held at Beth Israel Cemetery in Vancouver on January 9, 2024. May his memory be for a blessing.

For those who wish to do so, contributions in Bill’s memory may be made to the following funds:  Israel Emergency Fund through Jewish Federation, the Renee Switzer Family Fund for Human Rights & Social Justice through the Jewish Foundation, or the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund at Schara Tzedeck or Beth Israel Synagogue in Vancouver.

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