The funeral was Thursday afternoon. Here’s an obit written by my brothers:
Mary Blum Devor’s family came to Canada from Poland in 1926. Mary was born three months later, in Montreal. The youngest of four siblings, her parents were poor Jewish immigrants who valued education and culture. In time, Mary and all her siblings earned university degrees.
Mary was fascinated with child psychology but set her ambitions aside when she married Sid Blum, a brilliant and charming veteran from New York and started to raise a family. Sid was a civil rights activist and the two of them were at the centre of a cohort of young idealists who were changing the world.
In the summer of 1966, Sid was diagnosed with cancer; he died three years later.
With five children to feed, Mary knew she would have to get a job. She was 39 years old.
Rekindling her passion for psychology, she began her search for work as an unpaid volunteer, doing testing and psychological assessment of children in the care of the Catholic Children's Aid Society in Hamilton, Ontario, where she lived. Soon the Hamilton Board of Education, hearing of her work, asked her to do assessments of children having problems in school. As word of her effectiveness spread, she was offered a full-time job as a child psychologist at Hamilton's Mental Health Clinic for Children and Adolescents. Family court judges began asking her to assess children caught in custody battles. And before long she was named Chief Psychologist, and then Director, of the clinic.
Understanding that troubled children need someone who will listen to them, and care about them, Mary started a program in which she taught volunteers how to listen to children with empathy, and nurture their self-worth. Each volunteer was assigned one child, and given weekly counselling in groups that she led.
Four nights a week, after coming home to have dinner with her own children, she drove back downtown to work with existing volunteers, and to train new volunteers. In this way, hundreds of ordinary citizens learned how to listen to, and care about, Hamilton's troubled children.
As the benefits of her programs became evident, she was able to open a second clinic for children's mental health, and place it in one of Hamilton's poorest areas.
After ten years of widowhood, at the peak of her achievements, her life took another turn. One of Sid’s best friends from his university days, Berko Devor, came into her life. A prosperous lawyer now settled in Israel, Berko successfully wooed Mary and they were married in 1979, dividing their time equally between Jerusalem and Hamilton.
In Israel she revived her Hebrew language skills and immediately began working with children in a hospital in Jerusalem. Appreciating her value, the hospital offered to pay her. But instead of accepting payment, she asked the hospital to use the money to hire another therapist to work with children. The therapist never knew the source of their salary.
These years with Berko, living in two countries and travelling together to many more, were some of Mary’s happiest. Her private counselling practice grew to attract many in the Orthodox community and to help alleviate the anxiety of some of her male clients who were reluctant to be alone in a room with a woman, she trained Berko as a co-therapist.
Berko died in 1993, also of cancer, and Mary returned to Hamilton. Here, in the house that she'd bought thirty years earlier, she continued working, doing marriage counselling and family therapy in her home, and over the telephone with clients in Canada, Israel, and the U.S.
Dying at the age of 94, Mary Blum Devor is survived by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and hundreds of volunteers and former clients who adored Mary for changing their lives. Her work will reverberate to the corners of time.