Jüri Daniel

Obituary of Jüri Viktor Vrzesnevski Daniel




On Wednesday, October 5, 2022, in Toronto, Professor Daniel passed away at 99 years of age.  Jüri passed away doing what he loved, training toward the goal of setting new Masters swimming records.  He leaves his wife, Mia Daniel, his son, Jüri, daughter-in-law, Nancy (nee MacDougall), grandchildren, Kristy (Jeff Kenney), Sara (Andrew James) and Emily, and great-grandchildren, Zachary and Dominic; his son, Omar, daughter-in-law, Erika Raum, grandchildren, Rosie, Oskar, Eero and Roxanne.


Born in 1923 in Kuressaare, Estonia, he came to Canada as a displaced person after the Second World War.  Settling in Toronto, he met the love of his life, Mia Daniel, and they were married in 1949.  Jüri was educated at the University of Toronto and the University of Illinois, where he received his Ph.D. in 1971. 


During his twenty-seven year career as an educator, coach and mentor at the University of Toronto, he was instrumental in the growth and success of the program.  His legendary status as a swimming coach (CIAU Swimming Coach of the Year in 1967) was matched by his belief in the pursuit of scholarship in the area of Physical and Health Education.  He was appointed to the faculty of the UofT School of Physical and Health Education in 1962, served as Director from 1972-79, and was named a Professor Emeritus upon his retirement in 1989. Jüri had received an honourary medal for the Canadian People's Lifestyle Facilitation (1980), the Queen of England's Medal of Merit (1977), a Canadian Red Cross Medal of Honor (1981) for his volunteer work, and the R. Tait McKenzie award (1986), the name of Meritorious Alumnus of the Saaremaa Joint High School (1996).  He was inducted into the University of Toronto "Sports Hall of Fame" on two separate occasions as both a Builder and an Athlete.


Jüri’s presence was constant in the Estonian-Canadian community.  He was a member of Korporatsioon Vironia, the Bibliography Club at Tartu College, and a regular contributor to the cultural and intellectual life of the Estonian diaspora. In 1994, he had the honour of receiving an honourary doctorate from the University of Tartu, Estonia.  His thirty-year association with the YMCA began as a swimming instructor at the Broadview “Y” shortly after his arrival in Canada. Many summers were spent at Geneva Park YMCA, where Jüri became the summer program director while Mia taught swimming. The ‘Daniel Program Centre’ is a testament to their contribution.


As significant as these accomplishments were, Jüri’s heart was, above all, dedicated to his family.  His eagerness to help, advise, and simply lend an ear to his treasured family is what touched us all.  He was truly the happiest when he was in the presence of his dear family and friends.


A Celebration of Life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 22nd at the Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Davisville).


In lieu of flowers, you may wish to honour Jüri’s legacy, with a donation to the B. Evans and J. Daniel Ontario Graduate Scholarship at the University of Toronto, 55 Harbord Street, Toronto ON, M5S 2W6,  c/o Tanya Donald (416) 946-5125 or tania.donald@utoronto.ca.


Condolences may be forwarded through www.humphreymiles.com.


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