Murray Bernard Koffler, OC OOnt (born January 22, 1924) is a Canadian pharmacist, businessman, and philanthropist. He is best known for creating the Canadian pharmacy retailer Shoppers Drug Mart and co-founder of The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Life and career
Born in Toronto, Ontario to Romanian-born Jewish immigrant parents, he attended Oakwood Collegiate Institute, and then received a Phm. B. degree in 1946 from the University of Toronto. He is married to Marvelle.
In 1946, he became a pharmacist at Koffler Drug Stores (established in 1921). From 1968 to 1971, he was President of Koffler Stores Ltd. From 1971 to 1986, he was Chairman of Shoppers Drug Mart. He was appointed an Honorary Chairman in 1986.
In addition to his business pursuits, Koffler is known as a community leader and philanthropist. He has received the B'nai B'rith Distinguished Citizen’s Award; the Canada Council of Christians and Jews Humanitarian Award,; and, with his wife, Dr. Marvelle Koffler, the Israel Cancer Research Fund Humanitarian Award. He has served on the board of governors of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, as well as on the boards of Mount Sinai Hospital, the United Jewish Welfare Fund, and the Jerusalem Foundation, and is a past chairman of the United Jewish Appeal. In 1979 Murray Koffler was the Toronto Negev Dinner honoree.
Murray and Marvelle established the Koffler Centre of the Arts in 1974. The Koffler Centre and Koffler Gallery presents a contemporary cross-disciplinary arts program including the Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature and a diverse range of programs in theatre, literature and visual arts. The Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre and the Murray Koffler Urologic Wellness Centre were both established through their generous philanthropy to the Mount Sinai Hospital.
In 1969, Koffler rallied the pharmaceutical community, among others, to launch The Council on Drug Abuse (CODA), a charitable non-profit association with the mandate to prevent substance abuse through health promotion and education impacting children and youth. CODA develops/delivers cutting-edge, preventive drug abuse programs to youth aged 12–19 in 104 Canadian school communities which include students/teachers other youth/adults associated with high school and feeder schools, local community groups/social services/community centres/police and other points of community focus including culturally diverse groups/populations.
In 1971, Koffler and two other Jewish community leaders, Albert Latner and Ray Wolfe, purchased the Canadian Jewish News.
Both Murray and Marvelle Koffler are major supporters of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Both sit on the Institute’s board of governors, and Murray Koffler is chair of the international board of directors. He is also chairman emeritus of the Canadian Society for the Weizman Institute. Another of his contributions to the Weizmann Institute is his funding of the Koffler Accelerator—a sophisticated twin-tower instrument for nuclear research. Murray Koffler was named to the Order of Canada in 1977 and in 1996 was promoted to an Officer. He was also named to the Order of Ontario in 1992 and received an honorary doctorate from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1976.
His son moved to Israel where he created the very successful Super Pharm pharmacy stores.
In 1977, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada "for his many services to his community as businessman, philanthropist and patron of the arts". He was promoted to Officer in 1995. He was awarded the Order of Ontario in 1992.
In 1986, the Retail Council of Canada recognized Koffler's ability in leading the Oshawa Group to outstanding business success. In recognition of this accomplishment he was presented with the Distinguished Canadian Retailer of the Year Award. Koffler was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame in 1991.
The Murray Koffler Urologic Wellness Centre and the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto is named in his honour and his wife's. The Koffler Student Services Centre and the Koffler Institute of Pharmacy Management at the University of Toronto are named in his honour. He donated the land that later became the University of Toronto biological research station The Koffler Science Reserve at Joker's Hill, in King Township, ON.