Dionysia Zerbisias 1939 – 2019
It is with profound sadness that the family of the Honourable Madame Justice Dionysia « Denny » Zerbisias announces her passing on October 1 at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital.
Predeceased by the love of her life Martin Bergman, Denny has left a hole in the hearts of so many.
Born in 1939 to Petros « Peter » and Paraskevi « Loula » (nee Glezos), she was always encouraged to break down barriers encountered by young women both in life and, eventually, the law. She did not disappoint.
A graduate of Rosemount High, Sir George Williams College and McGill University, she was admitted to the Quebec Bar Association in 1962, practising as an attorney and senior partner at the firm then called Adessky, Kingstone, Zerbisias, Poulin, Gervais and Bier.
In 1983, Denny was appointed Puisne Judge of the Superior Court for the District of Montreal by the Privy Council of Canada. She also served as Judge Ad Hoc of the Court of Appeal of Quebec from September 1996 until August 1998. After retiring from the bench in December 2013, she again became a member of the Bar Association of Quebec. She then joined Devine Schachter Polak of Westmount where she acted as General Counsel while conducting mediations for the Superior Court.
Among her many honours are the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal (2003) and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2013.) Denny served on many boards, offered her legal expertise to many non-profits and, in particular, helped other women enter the law or win legal battles against violence and discrimination.
Denny was an adventurous traveller, avid skier and sailor, elegant hostess, and enthusiastic Bridge player who loved fine dining, good Scotch, art and design, opera, Just for Laughs, theatre and film. She managed to do everything in duplicate, both in her hometown of Montreal and at her second home in Hallandale, Florida.
Nobody knows how she juggled all her passions while being such a devoted mother and role model to Mandy Bergman and Cindy (Kenny Stein) and doting and engaged « Nana » to Betsy Kate and Sarah Melissa. She was also a loving and steadfast sister to Antonia, Irene Xanthos (David Field), George (Sylvie Thiffault), the late Irene Glezos (Steve Argyris)as well as aunt to Kristin Zerbisias (Michael Nunes) and Alexandra Zerbisias (Jeremy Oliver.) She recently welcomed her great-nephew Peter Hamilton Oliver to her family. Her cousins Eirini Demetelin, Desi Liberopoulos (Pierre Shousha) and Maria Argyris were especially close.
Denny was a rock, a mentor, a shoulder to lean on, an unparalleled problem-solver and an incredibly generous friend. She will be much missed by her countless friends and colleagues both here and abroad, as well as her long-time housekeeper Mariam Kabagani.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Shield of Athena. The Montreal SPCA, the Down syndrome Association of Toronto and Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom would be appreciated. Funeral Thursday, October 3 at 10 am. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. at the Mount Royal Funeral Complex. Visitation from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.