Cover photo for Ibolya "Ibi" Eve Gabori's Obituary

Ibolya "Ibi" Eve Gabori

August 7, 1928 — March 1, 2023


Ibolya Eve Gabori (Ibi) died in the company of loved ones on March 1 2023 at age 94 in her home at Kensington Gardens long-term care home in Toronto.

Ibi was born in Miskolc, Hungary, in 1928, to Géza Keil, a manual labourer who, among many things, worked as a janitor in a Jewish school, and Erzsébet née Franck, whose work as a laundress supplemented his income. Ibi’s early childhood was spent in a single mud-floored room that she shared with her parents, grandfather and little brother Gyuri. When her father had a workplace accident, she dropped out of school at age 14 to support her family. Though Ibi grew up in the 1930s against a backdrop of increasing antisemitism, her bright spirit was nurtured by role models and mentors who encouraged her to get an education and awakened her lifelong love of music and literature.

Ibi’s mother, father, little brother, and thirty-seven relatives—that she knew of—perished in the Holocaust. Ibi herself survived the camps (Auschwitz, Płaszów and Markleeburg), where she often sang to lift everyone’s spirits and was known as “Dalos Ibi” (Singing Ibi). Just sixteen years old at the end of the war, Ibi found herself orphaned and alone. Cleaving to her steadfast ambition to get an education and become a librarian, she decided to settle in Budapest.

There, for five years she worked by day in a paprika plant and studied by night to obtain her high school diploma. After graduating, she secured a job in the Budapest library system and again worked by day and studied by night, finally earning a library science degree in 1956. The post-war Communist regime provided Ibi with opportunities—education, housing, healthcare—that a working-class girl like her might not otherwise have had. However Ibi ultimately became disillusioned with the Communist system.

Meanwhile, she met a witty and charismatic man, writer and journalist Robert Zend. They married in 1949 and in February of 1956 their daughter Aniko was born. When the Hungarian Revolution was quickly and brutally repressed in the fall of that same year, Ibi was alarmed by rising antisemitism, and Robert was in danger of being arrested for writing leaflets encouraging dissent. They escaped with two truckloads of other freedom fighters and their families, crossing the border into freedom at 4:15 am on November 15, with Aniko in Ibi’s arms.

Within months of their arrival in Toronto, Ibi landed a job in the public library system despite speaking virtually no English. For the next thirty-plus years, she exercised her chosen vocation with enthusiasm and delight, and was much beloved by coworkers and the public alike. After she and Robert separated amicably, he introduced her to another Hungarian refugee, George Gabori, a Social Democrat who had survived years as a political prisoner in both Nazi and Communist concentration camps. Ibi married George in 1969 and together they enjoyed twenty-eight years of marriage and a rich social life until George’s death in 1997. They revelled in the peace, freedom, and relative abundance they had both found in Canada. Over the course of her life in Canada she gave many talks to students and the general public on her concentration camp experience, sharing a message of love and forgiveness.

Ibi was devoted to her daughter Aniko and grandson Robert. Her sense of family also encompassed many, many others; wherever she went, Ibi created family. Ibi’s life was characterized by hardship and loss, not least, the loss of Aniko to cancer in 2012. At the same time, Ibi’s life is an example of courage and resilience. What is maybe most extraordinary about her is that she survived not so much through cleverness and cunning, as through love, gratitude and amazement, honesty, humour, music, and fantastic storytelling. To know her was to experience her love and generosity—whether in the form of a home-cooked meal, a warm embrace, or a radiant smile.

Ibi was beloved grandmother to Robert (Maya Radosavljevic) Zend-Gabori, step-grandmother to Endre (Poorva) Gabori and step-great-grandmother to Nysa and Tisya Gabori. She is survived by her daughter’s sister Natalie (Bruce Lyne) Zend and Natalie’s mother Janine Zend, her brother Ernő Zágon and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and many dear friends and honourary family members.

Special thanks to the staff at Kensington Gardens, to Dr. Heather Gilley, and to many friends and neighbours for their care, love and support in recent years.

Interment of ashes will be held on Saturday March 18 at 11:30 am at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, 375 Mount Pleasant Road, East Gate, Section 23, Toronto ON M4T 2V8.
Visitation will be held on Saturday March 18 at 1:00pm at Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation (NUUC), 310 Danforth Avenue (near Chester Station), Jackman at Hurndale entrance, Toronto ON M4K 1N6.
Memorial Service at 2:00 pm in the same location, followed by reception until 5:00 pm.
Join the Memorial Service on Zoom here at 2:00 pm ET (7:00 pm in Hungary). Virtual doors open at 1:45 pm.

While flowers are welcome, you might consider donating to Kensington Health Foundation or an organization of your choice. You might also honour Ibi by cooking a meal for loved ones, adopting a “soul” mother or daughter, giving a hug, smiling at strangers, singing a song, reading a work of literature, playing a game of scrabble, or listening to a symphony.

March 18, 2023
2:00 PM ET (7:00 pm in Hungary) Virtual doors open at 1:45.
Click here to join.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Ibolya "Ibi" Eve Gabori, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Interment of Ashes

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Starts at 11:30 am (Eastern time)

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Mount Pleasant Cemetery, East Gate, Section 23

375 Mount Pleasant Road
Toronto, ON M4T 2V8

*Standard text messaging rates apply.


Saturday, March 18, 2023

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Add to Calendar

Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation

310 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON M4K 2X4

*Standard text messaging rates apply.


Saturday, March 18, 2023

2:00 - 5:00 pm (Eastern time)

Add to Calendar

Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation

310 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON M4K 2X4

*Standard text messaging rates apply.


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