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Gryphon Gallery: Iva Lisicka (Lester)

Stuart Brambley, School Archivist
Iva was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1927, to a former Czech representative of the League of Nations.
In August 1940, living in London and one month prior to the start of the Blitz, she was evacuated to Victoria and Genlyon Norfolk School (Norfolk House School).

That journey began on a ship from Liverpool. She spoke of one incident occurring during that journey by sea. “We left the docks on August 16, 1940. There was a thick fog the first day out and we stayed in the lounges and cabins for most of the day. In the evening, another girl and her brother from Czechoslovakia and I were at the stern of the ship around 8 pm, when I heard a loud boom! I told my friends but they did not hear it. Then suddenly another boom resounded. We came to the conclusion that it was thunder, as it was raining hard at the time. In the morning, however, we heard that our ship was attacked and had sunk a German submarine the previous evening with two depth charges.”

Iva attended Norfolk House School from 1940 to 1943. From her first day, people had trouble pronouncing her last name and this would eventually lead to her changing Lisicka to Lester. Even Major Simpson, founder and headmaster at Glenlyon, referred to her as “Miss Lipstick'' when announcing at her final Prize Day that she had won a Provincial Scholarship. She went on to attend at Victoria College and the University of British Columbia, where she earned a BA degree in 1950. She also studied at New York University, receiving a Masters Degree in Business Administration in 1958. 

She gained employment at the United Nations in New York and served devotedly for 34 years, from July 1951 to November 1985. In 1957 she was assigned to the Accounts Division where she spent the next 28 years, the last four as Chief of the Central Accounts Section of the UN Secretariat. She was very proud of her accomplishments there and the high regard, and affection of her associates and those who evaluated her performance, a testament of which she was listed in the Marquis "Who's Who of  American Women", 12th edition 1981-1982.

As a legacy of this groundbreaking career, scholarships have been endowed through a bequest by Iva Maria Lester for graduate students in accounting at UBC. The awards are made on the recommendation of the Sauder School of Business in consultation with the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Iva Maria Lester passed away in 2006 having lived a very successful career that could have ended so abruptly back in those dark days of WWII.
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We wish to acknowledge and respect the Lekwungen-Speaking Peoples on whose traditional territory we stand, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and Wsáneć Peoples whose historical relationships with the land, where we live, work, play and learn, continue to this day.