What is your full name?
Stuart Eric Woolley (Hertzig Aron ben Benyamin v’ Fraydel)
Where and when were you born?
London, UK. August 7, 1950
Where did you grow up & where do you live now?
My parents, Ben & Freda (Marcus) Woolley emigrated from Britain to Canada in 1954 when I was 4. I grew up in Jewish neighbourhoods in Montreal. The last half of my life has been a bit vagabondish. We’ve lived in Toronto, Vancouver, the lovely Great Lakes city of Kingston and most recently a 5-year stint in Columbia, SC. Since the summer of 2019, Edmonton, AB has been home, and this may or may not be the last stop on the line.
Do you have a family partner and /or any children?
My wife, Lesly, is a Tennessee native who went to McGill U. for grad school and made the choice to become a Canadian. She’s a prof. in education at the University of Alberta, which is why we’re in Edmonton. Our daughter Eve (28) lives in Atlanta, GA, where she works in convention & meetings sales for Marriott Hotels Int’l.
How are you a descendant of Mordechi Shlomo Marcus?
I’m a great-great grandson via Mordechai’s second son Abraham Jacob Marcus. Elie Marcus (1896-1965) was my grandfather.
What do or did you do for primary occupation/career?
I’ve been an accounts receivable manager/consultant since the 1980s. The simplest way to articulate that would be to say that I help small & medium size businesses get paid. Dealing with clients/customers and the money they owe their suppliers & vendors is one of the more uncomfortable zones of business life. I try to make it less fraught & less painful by making the process as rational and as systematic as possible. But as everyone in business knows, people and money can be a strange, unpredictable and volatile combo. A few years ago, I wrote a book on small business receivables management. It’s probably still the only one on the market.
What do you do for recreation or pastime?
I aged-out of sports in my late 60s. Time catches up with everyone in the end. Currently, my three principal pastimes are music, genealogy and gardening. My father bought me a guitar in 1959 when I was 9, and I’m still playing daily at 71. Gardening needs no explanation. As far as genealogy goes, I’m part of a team of three cousins researching our London ancestors, Jewish and Christian, in Georgian England. On the Jewish side, we’re working on the 1796 “Great Synagogue” marriage of our GGGG grandparents.
What books are you reading now?
I have far too many partly-read books. However, two of my 2021 completions were: Ron Chernow’s magisterial GRANT, demonstrating that Fate is all; and REBELLION, Peter Ackroyds history of the ill-fated Stuart monarchies and the English Civil War.
What is your favourite Jewish food?
When I was growing up in Montreal, it was a city with a Jewish population of perhaps 125K, and that rendered it rich in all forms of Jewish cultural life, including gastronomie. So I’m going to be a total homer and say: a “hot-lean” smoked meat sandwich at the legendary Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen on “The Main”. With a Mrs. Whyte’s kosher dill on the side. (A free angioplasty with every one!)
What is you favourite movie of all time?
Picking a single movie is a mug’s game, but if I must go with a singleton, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE would have to be it. Hopeless romance with a wink and a nod.
Who was the greatest influence on your life and why?
Ultimately, my parents, Ben & Freda. My father gave me a lifetime of music and the wise advice to “seek moderation in all things”. As a Momma’s Boy, my mother was one of those “everything” people. She loaned me her formidable social skills, installed Judaism and Jewishness in my life, kept me connected to her immense Irish family so that I would retain a sense of family in an immigrant childhood — and so much more.
If you could invite 3 people (1 dead and 2 alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
I’m going to cheat and reverse the guest composition. I’d like to bring Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and historian Barbara Tuchman back from the Great Beyond. And for the still-living dinner companion: a doyenne of the American songbook, Carole King. G-d only knows how we’d find a conversation topic in common!
What would be on the menu?
Hopefully, stimulating conversation. (Who cares about the food!)
What is the craziest or wildest thing you have ever done?
I don’t have a lot of wild’n’crazy in me. I always want to, but it never developed. So let’s go with “risky”, instead. Risky… I invested 24 years of my life in scriptwriting – “spec” film and paid TV. Quixotic. A very difficult industry of which one apt motto would be: “You can’t get there from here.”
How important is family to you and why?
As a child-immigrant and an only-child, “family” was mostly an idea. My grandparents and cousins were oceans away. My nearest maternal cousins, Lesley & Brian Marcus, were much younger than I was, and they were in Chicago. I did not grow up with family next-door or in the neighbourhood – or even in the same country. Still, my mother imbued me with a deep sense of the value of family and made sure I remained connected to Irish relatives and the Dublin diaspora of which we were an integral part. So it’s both an absence of family in my personal history and my ability to “borrow” my mother’s powerful sense of family commitment that created the family framework for me. And I consider myself very lucky. I know and know of family members the world over. But perhaps more importantly, I learned at a very young age that “family” in the broadest sense is what we create in the best of our friendships.