Died peacefully on January 8, 2022, aged 107. He is remembered for his kind heart, good humour, and fantastic elegance by his goddaughter Astrida Liepins and family, colleagues, and friends.
John was born in Palsmane, Latvia on November 9, 1914. He kept his mother Antonija Ikšele, father Jānis Žīgurs, and sister Mirdza Čops in his heart. He was a lieutenant in the Latvian National Armed Forces during WWII, emigrating to Canada as a war refugee in 1948. He sponsored his sister and her family to follow in 1949. John made it his goal to settle in Toronto upon seeing the Royal York Hotel while stopped at Union Station from Halifax. Instead of continuing to his planned destination, he took a job as a poultry farmer at Eaton Hall in King City. He excelled in roles at Eaton's Department Store in downtown Toronto and Scarboro Golf & Country Club, and became the longest-standing Secretary-Manager at the Toronto Club (1965–1986), welcoming Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Prince Phillip Duke of Edinburgh, and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
He was a skilled self-taught photographer and ice sculptor, and organized outdoor ballet performances to complement his love of hospitality. He often hosted family and friends at his Thorncliffe Park apartment and his Bala, Muskoka cottage, sharing good food and wine.
John moved to Delmanor Wynford at age 100, where he spent his final years under the heartfelt care of staff and family. He is pictured above on his 107th birthday in November.
John was a founding member of the Latvian National Federation in Canada and St Andrew's Latvian Lutheran Church. He was a supporter of the National Ballet of Canada and Canadian Opera Company for over sixty years. Donations to these organizations are warmly appreciated.