Iconic philatelist, RDP signatory Michael Madesker dies at 96

By Jesse Robitaille

Long-time philatelist Michael Madesker, one of Canada’s signatories of the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists (RDP), has died at age 96.

A leading figure in Canadian philately for more than half a century, Madesker died on Dec. 27 at Mackenzie Health Hospital in Richmond Hill, Ont.

In his personal hobby, he was an “eclectic” collector, writer and exhibitor, according to the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada (PSSC), an invite-only group Madesker was called to join in 1973. Some of his many areas of philatelic interest included Canadian and Israeli stamp booklets, German States parcel post from 1725-1870 and Venice postal history from 1400-1797, each of which he successfully exhibited at the national and international levels.

A champion of Organized Philately, Madesker signed the RDP – widely considered the hobby’s most prestigious honour – in 2000. It came after he organized two international youth exhibitions in Canada and while serving as the president of the Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FIP) youth philately commission. The first Canadian president of a FIP commission, he served in that role from 1992-2004, an unprecedented three four-year terms.

“He’s not only going to be missed in Canadian philately, but he’s going to be missed in international philately as well,” said fellow philatelist Charles Verge, who added Madesker had a “major, major involvement” in youth philately.

During a speech at his RDP signing ceremony, Madesker told the crowd about his ambitions for youth philately in Canada and abroad: “The collecting rollercoaster of very young people collecting, maturing and becoming junior col-lectors is familiar to all of us. A departure from philately on entering the workforce or a school of higher education is a reality we all know well. Eventually, a proportion of these people, established in their occupations, return to philately. I have to be optimistic that this pattern will not change and possibly improve.”

Madesker was only the seventh Canadian philatelist to sign the RDP, an honour previously bestowed to Fred Jarrett (1935), James Calder (1947), Gerald Wellburn (1951), Vincent Graves Greene (1963), Harry Sutherland (1991) and Kenneth Rowe (1995).

While Madesker was the sole living Canadian RDP signatory, Toronto philatelist Charles Verge has been invited to sign the roll this February at London 2022 if the ceremony goes ahead as planned.

“I can’t deny that I’m pleased to have been asked to sign the roll, and I’m delighted to be following in the footsteps of Michael, Ken, Harry and everybody else,” said Verge.

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