Asper Family Matriarch Dies Suddenly

Ruth "Babs" Asper was married for 47 years to the late Israel Asper, who founded and ran Canada's Canwest Global Communications Corp. media empire.

MONTREAL -- Ruth Asper, the matriarch of one of Canada’s biggest media families, passed away Saturday in Winnipeg, Manitoba at age 78 years.

Asper, who was called “Babs” by her family, was married for 47 years to Israel “Izzy” Asper, who founded and helped run the former Canwest Global Communications Corp. empire until his death in 2003, age 71 years.

Leonard Asper, Ruth Asper’s son, was CEO was of Canwest Global Communications Corp. until it was sold last year to Shaw Communications and rebranded as Shaw Media.

Leonard and brother David Asper and sister Gail Asper in a statement gave no indication of what caused the sudden passing of their mother Saturday at a Winnipeg hospital, and appealed for privacy for their family.

"Funeral arrangements will be announced once the family has had an opportunity to gather," the family statement read.

"The family requests that their privacy be respected at this time to allow them to begin dealing with this unexpected and tremendous loss,” the statement added.