John Jambor was born in 1902, near Kosice in what is now Slovakia, and came to Canada in the '20s, working in a paper mill and as a steam ship agent to save up enough money for his wife, Joan, to be able to join him.
His philosophy was to "work hard, live well, give back."
Nearly a century later, and more than 20 years after his death in 1991, Jambor's approach to life is still alive and well with his grandson William McCarthy - particularly the "give back" part.
McCarthy, the creator and executor of Jambor's estate plan, recently arranged the bequest of a $21.4 million gift to the B.C. Cancer Foundation, through the Jambor-McCarthy legacy.
It is the largest charitable bequest to a single beneficiary in B.C. history.
"I worked alongside my grandfather from childhood," said McCarthy. "He was the greatest man I'll ever know. Together, we developed the Jambor-McCarthy legacy and I'm proud to see this gift flourish into a fitting tribute to my grandfather and the Jambor family. This gift fulfills the promise they made to their new country."
After John and Joan were reunited, the pair settled in Quebec, where they operated a convenience store for 13 years. During that time, John began his first forays into real estate investment. They had two children, John and Alice, and eventually moved to the West Coast, settling in Burnaby.
By then, John was ready to retire - but instead, he began a real estate career, first as a salesman but then later as a developer.
In 1970, Joan passed away from cancer after several years fighting the disease. In her honour, John donated $1 million for cancer research to the B.C. Cancer Agency. He himself later became a patient with the agency, and then passed away in 1991.
He bequeathed his equity in the 5000 Kingsway Plaza development to the B.C.
Cancer Foundation; McCarthy, who was born in Burnaby, was responsible for "stewarding" the investment in the project they developed.
In the subsequent 20 years, McCarthy - who is himself a businessman in property development and management - grew the estate to the $21.4 million, and then announced the transfer to the foundation.
"We are incredibly grateful to be the beneficiaries of this significant gift," said Brian Schmidt, interim president at the agency. "On behalf of the B.C. Cancer Agency I'd like to thank the Jambor-McCarthy family for their ongoing support in helping the B.C. Cancer Agency find the causes of cancer, as well as to discover better treatments for prolonged and improved quality of life."
To find out more, see www.bccancer.ca or www.bccancerfoundation.com.