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The tragic passing of Alain Ohana

I first met Alain Ohana more than 20 years ago.  He was a young dentist with a dynamic personality. At the time, a number of friends and I were involved in an organization called the Association of Young Jewish Adults. It was originally called the Jewish Adult Programming Society, but many people soured on the acronym JAPS so we made a change. This was a social group, with parties usually once a month. Our motto was: bring a boyfriend, bring a girlfriend; find a boyfriend, find a girlfiend. 

While I did not meet my wife via AJAY/JAPS, I made many good friends through this group. Alain Ohana was one of them and he became part of my social circle for many years. This was an interesting time in my life. I had just moved out on my own, was single for a lot of these years, and happily enjoyed a growing circle of friends. We went to dinner and movies together, organized events and just had a lot of fun.

Alain, whom we called “Doc,” was the kind of guy you could not help but like. OhanaHis laugh was infectious. He was always up on current events, so there was never dead air when he was around. As a dentist, he had a practice in Lachine where most of his clients were on social assistance. Alain  told me often how good he felt that he was making sure these individuals and their families were enjoying healthy smiles.

" The private  practice where Dr. Alain Ohana worked is a well established clinic that saw everyone, no one was ever refused, " a colleague of his told  me. "He showed a lot of devotion to his patients. Dr.Ohana double booked his days to accommodate everyone; rarely a break was ever taken.   His knowledge in surgery, endodontics, and dentures to try and accommodate his patients were always his main concern. He also  gave so much back to the community with his volunteer work.

As we all got married and had families, I did not see Alain that often. But whenever I did, he ALWAYS had kind words to say. He would allude to a particular column I wrote or chat about the Montreal Canadiens.

Alain married interior designer Sandy Mamane (pictured with him above). The couple had three young children and settled in Hampstead. A few years ago at Christmas I saw Alain by the pool at a family condo building I was staying at in Florida. His mom was a co-owner there. For about four years in a row, we would see each other at Christmas. I watched how his family grew and a new baby was born two years ago.  His two older children were full of personality, just like their dad. Alain I would sit in or by the pool for hours, talking about old times.

This past Christmas we did not go to Florida. Neither, I later learned,  did Alain. Just a few weeks ago a friend told me that he was not well. Then on August 3, I came home from holiday and got a message from our mutual friend Paul Melnick that Alain had died, a victim of bone cancer.

As the story goes, soon after I last saw Alain in Florida he returned home and began to experience pain in one of his legs. When it did not go away he went to his doctor. Tests were done and bone cancer was detected. The pain became so bad that he could not even walk.

Alain would lose his battle with cancer, only weeks before his 49th birthday. I attended his funeral and it was standing room only. When his son Jordan came to the podium and eulogized his father in French and English, there was not a dry eye in the room. Alain’s best friend Serge Rimok spoke about their incredible 32 year old friendship, the amazing trips they went on, Alain’s extraordinary sense of direction and his ability to pull out a full course meal from his ski jacket as the  lift was bringing them to the top of the hill.

I looked around the room and saw so many faces of our mutual friends from the good old days.

Life is not fair! Alain had so many years left.  He had already lost his own father at the age of four.

Alain will not be able to see his three beautiful children grow up.  All one can say is that he left a legacy of generosity, good humour and intelligence (he spoke seven languages). His children will indeed carry on the Ohana tradition.

Rest in peace Alain. You will be terribly missed!




Comments

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Montrealer

I did not know him, but you wrote a beautiful eulogy. I hope it brings some comfort to the family.

Gail grief

Thank you for sharing this mike. Beautifully written and I will certainly keep memories alive of our yachdav mission to Israel where alain was a valuable member of the group.

Sophie Moryoussef

Just found out about Alain's passing 1 hour prior to his funeral - I read the email 4 times as the first 3 times, I was in a state of shock! Still in disbelief, I emailed Sandie for confirmation!

Oh my goodness, Alain was and still remains in our heart, the epitomy of kindness, of good humour and of friendship! As you know, i grew up in the same single circle as you and Alain was always there smiling and ready for a good time! he will definitely be missed!

Let me wish his family my sincere condoleances!

Simon Bensimon

Hi Mike, I also knew Alain many years, dating back to Northmount High School - we were the same age but he was a year ahead. Always the nicest and smartest one of the bunch - all of us from similar (Moroccan Jewish immmigrant background) - throughout the years, as with you, he always seemed genuinely pleased to see me, he would stop to catch-up. Thanks for putting these thoughtful words together.
Simon (Bensimon)

Cathy

Hi

I was deeply saddened to hear of Dr Ohana's passing. He was my dentist for over 20 years. An all around nice guy and dentist. Always a smile and a genuine how are you.

R.I.P. Dr Ohana, you will surely be missed!!

Cathy

Nathalie Salamon(Cohen)

I am so sad about Alain's passing. He was a really good person and always so happy! I think about him and the old days. I can't believe I will never see him again. I wish the best for his family.

Donna Dillon (Dr Philippe Martineau et Dr Lenis)

I work for a periodontist in Lachine where Dr Ohana used to referr his patients. I had never met him but when learning of his passing was touched. Our thoughts go out to his family.

nathalie vanasse

i just find out today about dr ohana he was my doc a wonderful man who was loved so much for 20 years he took care of my smile . i write this with tears running down my face when i frist herd he was sick i made him a bouqia of flowers and a get well card and in it i told him thank for being who you are never change come back soon. it is so sad my heart is broken he was so young .dr ohana well be forever in my heart we love you love your patient since iam 13 years old ill never find a dentised as wonderful as you rip dr ohana love nathalie vanasse and family

Mike Cohen

Yes Nathalie
It is still very difficult to accept.

Brett Rodgers

I think that he really would have had been a good dentist. This was a very good blog on this mans life. I was really impressed with this blog and the things that he did.

Pierre Williams

Je viens d'apprendre le décès du Dr Ohana aujourd'hui par une ancienne amie de Lachine et je dois admettre que cela m'attriste énormément. Il a été notre dentiste de famille durant une quinzaine d’années. Son approche amicale, sa simplicité et son sourire attachent sont les premières choses qui me sont venus a l'esprit.
Il y a des choses dans la vie qui sont parfois difficiles a comprendre et a accepter et cela en est une...
Avec encore beaucoup de tristesse nous offrons en mon nom, celui de mon ex-épouse et ma fille, nos plus sincères sympathies a l'épouse et aux enfants du Dr Ohana.
Pierre, Miriam et Paloma.

BRIAN LANG

Mike, I met Alain back in CEGEP,around 1979 or 80.Went to a few JAPS parties together so we may have met as well.He was a super nice guy who would make you feel comfortable.He had a great laugh and smile.We lost contact after I moved to Toronto in 1990 and I regret not keeping in touch. I saw him briefly in the late 90s at a mutual friend's wedding in Toronto. It looked liked he had not aged through the years, and he still had that great smile and laugh.When I heard he was ill I tried to contact him but it was too late. I still have trouble believing that he is gone.Reading your eulogy, I am glad he found someone to share his life with, and was blessed with having children.It was rather cruel irony that his kids would lose their father when he himself lost his dad when he was young child.Made me realize,not to take your friends,or your parents, for granted as what ever time you have with them is precious.

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