Robert Canvasser
Robert Canvasser

Robert and his wife, Beverly, raised four children who married and gave them many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who to this day follow in the couple’s footsteps of love and devotion to family and Judaism.

Robert N. Canvasser, 95, of West Bloomfield, died Oct. 7, 2020.

He was born in Detroit in 1924 to Charles and Ada Canvasser, the third of four boys. He graduated from Central High School in 1943. Following graduation, he enlisted in the Army and was honorably discharged in 1945. He spent the rest of his life in the real estate business with his three brothers, going to work even when he was not feeling well.

He met the love of his life, Beverly, in 1950 and soon they were married. Beverly was not only his wife but also his life. They raised four children who married and gave them many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who to this day follow in the couple’s footsteps of love and devotion to family and Judaism.

Robert was involved in Temple Beth El and religious causes his entire life. He was confirmed in 1939 and later graduated from the temple high school in 1942. His confirmation service was called “Be Strong and of Good Courage,” a message he followed to the end.

Mr. Canvasser was a life member of the Isaac Agree Memorial Society, which later became known as the Downtown Synagogue. Robert and Beverly spent their lives working for charitable causes. His life revolved around Temple Beth El: He was president of the Young Married Group in 1958 and became president of the of Temple Beth El Men’s Club in the early 1960s. In 1969, he became the 45th president of Temple Beth El and served until 1973. He was instrumental in the building of and fundraising for the building at 14 Mile and Telegraph. Beverly served as president of the sisterhood at the same time.

In 1969, he was elected to the executive board of the National Federation of Temple Brotherhoods and the Jewish Chautauqua Society. The following year, he became its vice president. In 1974, he was chairman of the Synagogue Council of Greater Detroit, an organization of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox congregations.

From 1976 to 1984, Robert served as a member of the board of trustees of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the governing board of Reform Congregations in the United States. He also served on the board of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

He actively worked for Henry Ford Hospital West Bloomfield, which was so instrumental in saving his life. He also served on the board of Henry Ford Hospital West Bloomfield, the Heart and Vascular Institute and the Structural Heart Program. He helped raise funds and secure approval for the construction of the West Bloomfield facility, which serves so many people in the area. Reform Judaism, Temple Beth El and Henry Ford Hospital all benefited from the Canvassers’ devotion. He was a giant of a man who will be greatly missed.

Mr. Canvasser is survived by his children, Eric and Debbie Canvasser, Dr. David and Kathie Canvasser, Cheryl and Dr. Ronald Kerwin, and Mark and Marla Canvasser; grandchildren, Jason and Anne Canvasser, Daniel Canvasser and Dr. Lindsey Rossman, Jeffrey and Joel Canvasser, Rebekah Canvasser, Dr. Noah and Jennifer Canvasser, Hannah and Jason Kessler, Dr. Leah Canvasser and her fiancé, Dr. Kevin Ratnasamy, Dr. Lenny and Kim Kerwin, Richard and Samantha Kerwin, Heather and Jeffrey Vieder, Lauren and Jordan Yellen, Amanda and Dan Goldberg, Lindsay and Dr. Jeff Waldman, and Elizabeth and Michael Emmer; great-grandchildren, Jonah, Brynn, Jack, Hudson, Madison, Zachary, and Elijah Canvasser, Ezra Kessler, Bennett, Shaye, Ella, and Chase Kerwin, Paige and Brody Vieder, Connor Yellen and Lyla Goldberg; brother and sister-in-law, Byron and Maxine Canvasser; sister-in-law, Natalie Canvasser. He is also survived by his former daughter-in-law, Joanne Kapetansky; and his loving and devoted caregiver, Gigi James.

Mr. Canvasser was the beloved husband for 65 years of the late Beverly Canvasser; the proud great-grandfather of the late Micah Canvasser; the devoted son of the late Charles and the late Ada Canvasser; the loving brother of the late Donald Canvasser, the late Marvin A. and the late Elaine Canvasser.

Interment was at Clover Hill Park Cemetery. Contributions may be made to the Beverly and Robert Canvasser Compassion Fund, c/o Henry Ford Hospital West Bloomfield, 6777 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield Township, MI 48322, henryford.com/development; Hospice of Michigan-Oakland County, 43097 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302, hom.org/donations; Temple Beth El, 7400 Telegraph, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301, tbeonline.org/donation-page; or to a charity of one’s choice. Arrangements by Ira Kaufman Chapel. 

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