A Tribute to Murray Morgenthau

One of Canada’s pioneers in furthering the cause of Canadians as we age, Murray Morgenthau, passed away following complications from a heart attack on January 1, 2010 at the age of 89. In 1984, Murray Morgenthau, along with his surviving wife of 60 years, Lillian, co-founded CARP – an acronym for the Canadian Association of Retired Persons – dedicated to serving the interests of those we now call Zoomers. Together they took the organization from a group of ten determined friends around their kitchen table to a powerful advocacy group with hundreds of thousands of members nationwide. Murray served as Executive Director of CARP until 2007, when he was succeeded by media innovator and founder of A New Vision of Aging, Moses Znaimer. “This is indeed very sad news for the entire CARP Community, which Murray nurtured so carefully; and for me, personally, who he so generously mentored as his successor,” said Moses.

Born in Toronto, Murray was a proud Canadian who emerged from the Depression Era a generous, family-oriented gentleman who was able to achieve a lot, while letting others take the limelight. Artistically and financially inclined, he entertained fellow soldiers as a clarinetist in the Royal Canadian Air Force band during WWII, and then went on to became a mortgage broker – a career he eventually wound down to concentrate on developing CARP. Between Murray’s quiet and steadfast administration and Lillian’s powerful and outspoken advocacy, CARP saw phenomenal membership growth and currently stands at approximately 350,000 members nationwide.

In an interview shortly before his passing, Murray said, “When Paul Martin, as the Prime Minster of Canada, came to our office to discuss what were the serious problems, that made me feel great. Now Ottawa was coming to CARP. We were recognized as being the good lobby group for Seniors.”

According to Lillian, “CARP was an adventure, but it was one that was worthwhile and needed. Seniors were the forgotten people of Canada, the upcoming group in Canada, and they needed help with many things. In 1984, pressures rose to change RRSPs, so you could pull money out when you needed it – that was one of the first things we did. If you didn’t have funds and you needed medicine, either you didn’t eat or you didn’t pay your rent, or you got your medication – that wasn’t right. People were living on their pensions, but the pensions weren’t enough to live on. CARP is there to make sure that what is needed is looked at.”

Murray was proof that you’re never too old to embrace the future. Although he never surfed the internet – let alone operate a computer – he demonstrated remarkable foresight in predicting the medium’s popularity when he started FiftyPlus.Net at the age of 76. In 1999, he took the company public and today, it is known as ZoomerMedia Limited, also under Moses’ leadership. Today 50plus.com, one of the company’s cornerstones, is Canada’s leading online content provider for Zoomers.

Murray also spearheaded the creation of CARP News, the printed voice of CARP and one of his proudest achievements. CARP News evolved into CARP Magazine, which was relaunched nationally as ZOOMER Magazine in October 2008. Murray supported the publication’s name change. As he stated, “changing the name to Zoomer gives the idea that it is something fresh and something new.” Murray’s commitment to CARP was only rivaled by his familial devotion. Murray and Lillian were married on February 11, 1950 and had four children: Maura, David, Diana and Holly, who continues her Father’s work at CARP as Director of External Relations along with her husband Eric Vengroff who is CARP’s General Manager and VP Benefits. “Murray was a wonderful boss, and a great mentor,” said Eric Vengroff in a poignant eulogy for his Father-in-Law. “Murray never sought or desired the limelight. He worked as an enabler rather than a commander, allowing others to shine. Self-taught, with an instinct for how to handle both people and commerce, he was the solid pedestal upon which Lillian was able to stand up and be heard. He was the architect of much of what CARP was and is to this day. It has been an honour to work with him.”