Gerald (Jerry) Heffernan, 100, sitting at his office desk in a jacket and tie, calls up memory after memory from a life of remarkable accomplishment, anchored by an 80-year romance that, sadly, has come to an end.

One of Jerry's earliest memories is of holding on to his mother on a horse ride to visit his grandfather's mine in the Kootenays. The family mining connection gave shape to his career, and the outdoors remained a lifelong passion.

Geraldine (Gerry) O'Leary was his other passion.

A precious memoir from the Heffernans' wedding album.
He recalls their blind date in Toronto, when he was struck by her curly hair, big smile and love of books.

The relationship blossomed as they both studied at the University of Toronto — he studied metallurgical engineering and she physiotherapy. They were married in 1943, with Jerry serving the balance of World War II in the Royal Canadian Engineers.

After a stint at graduate school, Jerry joined a foundry in Vancouver to learn the steel trade. Combining a drive for efficiency with a bold entrepreneurial spirit, Jerry went on establish the first-ever continuous casting mini-mill in Canada. Smaller, cheaper and simpler, mini-mills revolutionized the steel industry and allowed Jerry to create an international steel-making empire during the 1970s.

As a couple, Jerry and Geraldine became noted philanthropists, widely supporting innovation and entrepreneurship. After Jerry experienced heart care at Sunnybrook, he chose to make a gift because he was "impressed with how they did things."

With advancing age, wife Geraldine developed Alzheimer's disease and passed away in September 2018.

To honour her memory, Jerry made a gift to support the work of Alzheimer's expert Dr. Sandra Black, to attract the brightest minds to Sunnybrook to combat dementia. And to "find a solution to aging brains," so Jerry Heffernan can hold on to his most cherished memories.

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