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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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Survivor’s son gives $100,000 to Holocaust ‘heroes’

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Bruce Kent, left, with his mother Agnes and RBC CEO Gordon Nixon at a reception celebrating Kent’s 30 years with the institution. [Janice Arnold photo]

MONTREAL — A number of high-powered executives, as well as former prime minister Brian Mulroney, gathered last week atop Place Ville Marie in the 41st-floor private suites of the Royal Bank of Canada, to honour Bruce Kent, vice-president and a top portfolio manager with RBC Dominion Securities.

Kent was being feted for his 30 years with the company, where his success has grown to the point that today he manages over $2.4 billion in assets.

Many of his clients had come to express their appreciation  and affection.

To mark the occasion Kent announced that he is making a personal donation of $100,000 to the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem to support its True Heroes Tribute Gala being held in Toronto in October.

At that dinner, Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among the Nations medal will be bestowed to the Canadian relatives of gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II.

Kent’s mother, Agnes (Lörinczi) Kent owes her life to such a hero: Raoul Wallenberg.

Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1928, Agnes lost seven close relatives in the Holocaust, including her father and uncle who died on a death march to Auschwitz in 1944. They were among the more than 550,000 Hungarian Jews murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators in less than a year.

Agnes and her mother were among the up to 100,000 Jews who were rescued due to the courage and ingenuity of Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat.

They secured schutzpasses issued by Wallenberg and were sheltered in one of the safe houses he set up in Budapest.

Kent, his mother, wife Joelle and their daughters Victoria and Catherine will attend the True Heroes gala.

After a couple of years in Austria, Kent’s mother immigrated to Montreal, but hardship did not end. Her husband died suddenly when Bruce was a teenager, leaving no insurance or other assets to cushion single motherhood.

Kent said legendary American investor Warren Buffet is his role model, but his mother is his hero.

“She is resilient, optimistic, interested in other people,” said Kent. “She is never envious, never complains about anyone, or money. She always says Canada never let her down. Well, she never let Canada down.”

Agnes later said simply of her only child: “He’s a good man.”

Among those paying tribute to him were RBC chief executive officer Gordon Nixon and David Agnew, chief executive officer of RBC Canadian Wealth Management, a colleague for 29 years.

Kent joined RBC soon after graduating from Yale University with a degree in history.

Though still typically working six long days a week, Kent does make time to contribute to the community, and is a trustee of the Jewish General Hospital Foundation, among other charities.

The reception was definitely not a farewell. Rather, Kent regarded it as the kickoff to the next 30 years, at least, of his career, noting that he will only turn 54 next month and, at almost 84, Buffet is still going strong.

 

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