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Robert Wiener, Canada’s oldest man, dies at 110

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Robert Wiener celebrates his 110th birthday.

Robert Wiener, who became the oldest man in Canada when he turned 110 on Oct. 27, 2018, died peacefully on Feb. 17.

He was ranked as the 10th oldest man in the world by the 110 Club, which tracks supercentenarians.

But his good humour, charm and enjoyment of life and people are what those who knew him best are remembering him for.

The retired oral surgeon, who preferred to be called Bob, fared remarkably well almost to the end of his life.

Wiener was still exercising every morning, getting on his stationary bicycle and working with weights in his apartment in an assisted-living residence, when he was interviewed by The CJN on his milestone birthday.

He was sticking to a Mediterranean diet with lots of fish and adding his special blend of spices to give his meals some zest.

Although his sight and hearing were diminished, it did not faze his determination to live as well as he could. Wiener continued to read the newspaper daily with an electronic magnifier and was grateful for his new and improved glasses and hearing aids.

His family says he was always optimistic and gracious. Wiener was up to date on what each of his children and grandchildren were doing.

Wiener enjoyed conversation and telling stories, and became especially passionate when reminiscing about his beloved wife of 72 years, Ella, who died in 2011.

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Wiener was born in Montreal, the youngest of seven children. He followed in one of his brother’s footsteps and went into dentistry, which he practised well into his 80s.

After graduating from Baron Byng High School, he attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. He then went to McGill University and received his dental degree in 1936, winning the faculty’s gold medal. He continued his studies at the University of Chicago, where he earned a master’s degree in pathology.

In addition to a private practice, Wiener taught at McGill for more than 25 years and was instrumental in establishing the first dental clinic at the Jewish General Hospital, which he directed.

He was always physically active. He played hockey at McGill and played a lot of tennis and golf later in life. Besides his fitness and sunny outlook, Wiener did have heredity on his side – his brother David lived to 109.

Gerald Rudick, who graduated in dentistry from McGill in 1966, had Wiener as an instructor in oral surgery and maintained a friendship with this “very exceptional man.

“I had the pleasure of visiting him at his retirement home several times, bringing with me my computer and colour slides showing him how our profession has advanced with new technology,” said Rudick. “His mind and eyes were still very sharp and he could marvel of the advancements made in our profession. He is an example to all of us, to keep our minds sharp, keep our bodies fit and most of all, be a mensch, just as he was.”

Wiener is survived by his sons, Neil of Montreal and Ken of Toronto. His daughter, Lois, predeceased him. He had three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Contributions to his memory may be made to the Robert and Ella Wiener Memorial Growth Fund at Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, where they were longtime members.

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