KAMLOOPS — Cindy Ross Friedman’s husband remembers his wife as a compassionate, funny and intelligent woman who cared greatly about the people in her life — whether they were family or her students.
“She was a deeply caring person,” says Thomas Friedman, who met his wife when the two worked together at Thompson Rivers University in 2004.
Most recently, Cindy had been teaching at the University of Alberta and Concordia University in Edmonton.
Cindy became a well-known name around Kamloops when she taught as a biological sciences professor at TRU and then again when she ran in the city’s 2017 byelection for the mayor’s seat.
“Cindy was very committed to trying to make our community better,” Thomas says. “She was very committed to social justice to make sure that those with less advantage in our society are given the opportunity to thrive.”
In the weeks since Cindy has passed, Thomas says he has received several messages of sympathy including some from her former students.
“I just got an email yesterday from one of her ex-students who is an MD now and lives in the Fraser Valley,” he explains. “He and his wife were both Cindy’s students and they felt so grateful about a professor who really cared about not just their academics but also about their welfare as people.”
Cindy suddenly passed away on Dec. 24 after an aortic dissection — a tear in the walls of the major artery carrying blood out of the heart.
Thomas says they had spent several days in Penticton at Cindy’s mom’s house for the holidays.
“I had to come back to Kamloops briefly and then I got a call Christmas Eve morning that she had passed away,” Thomas says.
He says his last few days with Cindy and her family were memorable, as Cindy was very close with her siblings.
“I’m so glad we had those couple days all together,” he says. “We had a great time.”
Another thing Thomas says some might not have known about his wife was her passion for music.
“She was a very accomplished musician,” he says. “She had to make a decision early on in her career, whether she was going to go down the academic road or music.”
Although she pursued a career in education, Cindy still managed to find time to play in a Latin band called ‘Caliente’ with one of her colleagues from Cuba.
She was also involved with the Kamloops and District Labour Council. The board’s president Barb Nederpel turned to social media to express her condolences when she learned of Cindy’s death.
“Cindy brought brilliance, careful contemplation and dedication to (the) labour council, a driving force of progressive politics in our community,” Nederpel wrote in a post on Twitter. “She was one of the kindest, gentlest souls I knew.”
Cindy was 47..
“She had a real influence on people,” Thomas says. “I’ve gotten so many messages from people over the last two weeks since she has died.”
Cindy’s Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. at the Kamloops United Church.
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