It is with great sadness that we share the sudden passing of Emil Jursa. After a short illness, Emil passed away peacefully, surrounded by family on Wednesday December 27, 2023, at the age of 85.
Emil was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, in the Queen and Bathurst area. His elementary school years were spent at St. Mary’s School, where his values and academic strivings were shaped and positively impacted by the Christian Brothers. St. Mary’s was a school richly steeped in music and this is where Emil’s passion for music began. Emil was a dedicated member of the boys’ choir, singing at weekly Sunday masses and Christmas Eve Midnight Mass celebrations. He was also honoured to be accepted into the St. Mary’s Band where he was exposed to a vast number of memorable experiences. The band marched and played at various parades and shows and were commissioned to play at numerous Remembrance Day services being held at churches and legions. Emil was always thankful for the experiences that St. Mary’s Band afforded him, especially when their journeys out of town led to bus trips filled with noise, laughter, and best of all, song.
Emil’s secondary school years were spent at St. Michael’s College School. His love of music and commitment to St. Mary’s Band continued and he rose to the rank of corporal and began instructing younger band members. In his final year of high school, Emil was a founding member of The Indigos Quartet. The quartet experienced much success during it’s seven-year tenure, singing at young people’s clubs, weddings, variety shows, and even being crowned winners in the United Appeal Talent contest.
Emil’s journey into teaching began after high school when he began supply teaching with a “Letter of Permission” from the Ministry of Education. It took one short-term assignment for him to fall in love with teaching. Thus began his career of almost 40 years in education. Emil completed a one-year teacher’s college program and began teaching with the Metropolitan Separate School Board. He taught for six years and then decided to complete a post-secondary degree at the University of Waterloo.
When Emil returned to teaching, he received his first principalship with the MSSB. He served in the capacity of principal at many schools throughout his career. Emil was a kind, caring and well-respected administrator. He was a committed and dedicated educator, and he played an active role with his students as a coach of numerous sports and in his coveted role as choir director. Emil took a vested interest in his school communities and related effectively to students, teachers, and parents. He formed many life-long bonds and friendships with individuals from his various schools and continued to receive correspondence from former students throughout his retirement years.
Emil’s love for music and the arts continued throughout his career. He organized children’s choirs at most of his schools and took great pride in accompanying them to various music festivals and public singing events. He was even fortunate enough to have several records made of his St. Timothy’s Choir thanks to the assistance of a parent. Emil was also an active member in the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s Staff Arts program, participating in annual theatre productions and Christmas concerts. His most coveted theatrical role came at the end of his final year in teaching, where he won the hearts of his audience in the lead role of “Tevye” in the musical Fiddler on the Roof. Emil took great pride in his contributions to the arts and performed in the annual Staff Arts Christmas Concert for over 30 years, with his final performance being in 2019.
Emil was fiercely proud of his Canadian citizenship, his Slovak heritage and his membership and involvement in the Jednota organization. Emil was the current and a longstanding president of the Toronto Slovak Bowling League. He spent over 50 years enjoying his weekly bowling nights with friends and was always happy to run the 50/50 draw. Emil also served several terms as both president and a member of the parish council at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church. Emil had a genuine love of his Slovak community. Whether it be a New Year’s dance, the church Christmas bazaar, the Slovak picnic or one of the many casino bus trips that he had organized, Emil loved to be immersed in events that were centred on his Slovak heritage and that could be shared with his large circle of friends.
Emil was a respected colleague, a beloved friend and relative, but above all, a cherished husband and father. Emil was predeceased by his parents, Paul and Susan Jursa, his brothers, John, Edward and Joseph Jursa, his brothers-in-law, Gerry and Joe, and his sister-in-law, Pauline. He is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Marilyn, children Sue (Garry), Tim (Ingrid), Steve (Will), Catherine, and his grandchildren Brenden, Katie, Clara and Jack. He will be greatly missed by his sisters-in-law, Rosemary, Mary, Maureen and Mary Ellen, his nieces and nephews and many close friends.
Emil will be remembered for his warm and welcoming nature, his kind-heartedness and thoughtful gestures, his shining eyes and bright smile, and his jolly laugh and wonderful sense of humour. We will all remember him as a loyal and devoted friend, a talented musician and singer and as someone who valued family above all else. His joyful spirit and love of music touched the lives of many and will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, Emil - you will be dearly missed by all.
Friends may call at the Turner & Porter Peel Chapel, 2180 Huronontario St., Mississauga, on Tuesday from 6-9 pm, Wednesday from 2-4 & 6-9 pm.
Funeral Mass will be held at Sts. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church, 5255 Thornwood Dr., Mississauga, on Thursday, January 4, 2024 at 11:00 am.
For those who wish, donations may be made to Sts. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church.
Online condolences may be made through www.turnerporter.ca