Barry and Honey Sherman’s son wiped away tears as he shared some loving memories about his parents at their memorial service in Mississauga on Thursday.
During a service attended by thousands at the International Centre, Jonathon Sherman said he and his three sisters have struggled in the days since their parents were found dead in their Toronto home.
Police have said both Barry Sherman, 75, and his 70-year-old wife Honey died of “ligature neck compression” and classified the deaths as suspicious.
“Our parents never left anyone behind,” Jonathon said. “They were taken from us.”
The service, which was officiated by Eli Rubenstein, started with a moment of silence as the caskets were brought in, followed by “Psalm 23 — The Lord is My Shepherd.”
The crowd remained silent as the couple’s loved ones filed in past a stage adorned with the flags of Canada, Israel and Ontario. Over 7,000 people were seated in the main hall of the International Centre for the memorial, but many also sat in the overflow room.
Barry Sherman, the founder of pharmaceutical giant Apotex, started the company in 1974 and grew it into the largest Canadian-owned drug company. Hundreds of employees were in the crowd, with many wearing scarves in the company’s trademark bright blue and T-shirts saying “we will continue your legacy.”
“These last few days have been really f**ked up for my family,” Jonathon said, adding that they had to deal with speculation about their parents’ deaths from news outlets and social media.
“As my sisters and I congregated for two days waiting to hear any facts other than through Twitter and the unreliable news media, I kept expecting my parents to walk through the front door and say ‘everything will be fine, we’ve taken control of the situation.’ These past few days have been a shocking adjustment to our reality.”
Jonathon — with his sisters Lauren, Alexandra and Kaelen by his side — spoke affectionately about this parents, saying “together they were everything and perfect.” He said his mom always took care of everything, and referred to both as amazing parents.
“Our parents loved life so much … we felt our parents love so intensely, in so many ways that we will cherish forever.”
The Shermans have been widely celebrated for their philanthropic efforts on behalf of numerous causes, and their deaths have been mourned by politicians as well.
Jonathon said two weeks ago, his father told his family privately that he was appointed to the Order to Canada. He said his father was always humble, but he knew how proud he was to get that news. “To our family, you were always the greatest Canadian.”
Jonathon ended his eulogy by reassuring his parents that the family will be there for each other.
“We have pulled together during this most tragic time … we are taking some comfort in knowing that you two are together forever.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory were among the thousands who attended the memorial service.
“On behalf of all of the people of Toronto, we share your loss. We grieve with you. We pray that you will find some comfort over time,” Tory said.
Wynne said the Shermans had a “profound impact” on the city, province and the rest of Canada, adding that their kindness and generosity had a far reach.
Through tears, Honey’s sister Mary Shechtman said her sibling, “just wanted to make everyone happy. She just wanted to give everyone everything.”
“I miss them. I love them. I will always treasure them.”
People began lining up outside the International Centre as early as 8 a.m.
Steven Shulman with the United Jewish Appeal Federation said he is not surprised that many want to celebrate the lives of the Shermans.
“Today’s memorial service is really a reflection of the impact that Honey and Barry Sherman had on people, individually, on the Jewish community, and on the country,” he said.