Funeral held for HIV researcher in Montreal

Dr Mark Wainberg remembered as trailblazing HIV researcher

MONTREAL — Dr Mark Wainberg was remembered during his funeral on Friday as a trailblazing HIV researcher and patient advocate who was equally dedicated to his family, his Montreal community, and friends.

Wainberg’s plain wooden coffin sat at the front of the Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation, the synagogue he attended for many years.

He drowned on Tuesday while swimming with his son in rough waters off Bal Harbour, Fla. He was 71.

Wainberg’s son told the funeral that the loss of his father was a loss for the whole world.

“How many people in this world can say their work saved millions of lives?” Zev Wainberg said in a tearful eulogy.

Wainberg was part of the medical team that discovered the first antiviral drug to treat patients with the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.

He started the first AIDS labs in Canada in the 1980s, which grew to be among the largest in the country, his son said Friday.

More recently, he served as director of the McGill University AIDS Centre in Montreal.

In an emotional moment, the younger Wainberg recalled his father’s love of swimming in the Florida ocean, and of trying to pull him from the waves on Tuesday as he died.

“I tried to save him and I could not,” Zev Wainberg said.

It was, he added, ”a small comfort to know he died doing something he loved very much.”

Throughout the hour long service, Wainberg was described as a world-renowned scientist, an advocate, a mentor to thousands of students, and a proud Montreal Jew.

He was dedicated to his wife of 48 years as well as his two sons and his grandchildren, the mourners heard.

Not content to limit his contributions to the laboratory, Wainberg became an outspoken advocate for people with HIV at a time when such a move was neither politically correct nor popular, Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich told the packed synagogue.

Speaking outside the ceremony, one HIV/AIDS activist described Weinberg as “a tremendous ally” in the fight for access to treatment and for equal rights for people with HIV.

“He supported us from a place of passion and reason, and whenever he spoke, people listened,” said Ron Rosenes.

Wainberg also loved sharing Jewish jokes and practicing his French, Rosenes added.

Wainberg was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2001, and was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2015.

In 2008, Wainberg was named a Chevalier de Legion d’honneur, the highest honour given by France.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer’s 2017-2021 council sworn in

Mayor and council ready to serve for the next four years

Red Deer’s Salvation Army vehicles vandalized twice in six weeks

Police investigating Sept. 10 and Oct. 21 incidents

Update: More details released of fatal police-involved shooting near Alix

ASIRT says man rammed police car, injured officer

Influenza vaccine clinics get started across Red Deer, Central Alberta

Clutching stuffed animals they got from the Calgary Zoo, Owen and Alton… Continue reading

Replay: Red Deer

Watch the highlights from this week

Montreal prepares for “Cohen Week” as first anniversary of singer’s death looms

Three sets of crumbling concrete steps have just been fixed heading into… Continue reading

Montreal prepares for “Cohen Week” as first anniversary of singer’s death looms

His soulful poetry, distinctive baritone and knack for writing runaway hit songs… Continue reading

Sylvan’s talent on display for fundraising show

Sylvan Lake Refugee Project is hosting Sylvan’s Got Talent Nov. 3

B.C. ice rink where 3 people died remains closed due to safety concerns

FERNIE, B.C. — Residents who were forced from their homes because of… Continue reading

Trudeau condemns appointment of Mugabe as WHO ambassador

EDMONTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the appointment of Zimbabwe President… Continue reading

Friday Oct. 21: Winning Lotto Numbers

Friday, October 20, 2017 LOTTO MAX Winning Numbers 1 4 12 27… Continue reading

New northbound Hwy 2 lanes at Gaetz Avenue to open this Sunday

Drivers heading north through Red Deer on Hwy 2 will have a… Continue reading

Canadian planet hunter seeking alien life

‘The shifting line of what is crazy’ says Toronto-born astrophysicist

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month