WALTER CARSEN, O.C.

WALTER CARSEN, O.C. Johanni and Robert Carsen are deeply saddened to announce the death of their beloved father, Walter, who died peacefully on October 8, 2012, having achieved his dream of celebrating his 100th birthday with family and friends on August 14th. Walter leaves behind an inspiring legacy as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, humanitarian and husband, predeceased by his wife Clementine, father to Johanni and Robert, grandfather to Eli, as well as an arts patron and friend to the many people who knew and loved him. Of German origin, Walter moved to England where he began working some years before WWII. When war broke out, he was interned and sent to Canada, where he came to serve in the Canadian army. Walter was forever grateful to call Canada his home, and, together with his wife, Clementine Nahm, began to build a new life in Toronto, based on intuition, knowledge and hard work. Seeing an opportunity to specialize in cameras and optical equipment, Walter started a company which still bears his name and became successful beyond his dreams. Walter continued to follow his own calling by intuitively collecting and subsequently donating to various art institutions in Canada numerous works of visual art. Walter loved all the arts - music, film, ballet, opera, theatre - and above all the people who created them. He became friends with many leading lights in the arts, which further increased his knowledge and involvement. He often visited artists in their studios to better understand their work and how they made it. On one such visit to Henry Moore, Walter's question as to why the artist had not yet made a work in more than one piece, led to Walter's commissioning of Moore's first sculpture in two pieces. Later in life he was affectionately known as "Carebear" as he turned openly to helping a myriad of Arts organizations, such as the Art Gallery of Ontario (of which he was a Founder Member and to whom he donated over 160 works), the Toronto Symphony, the Canadian Opera Company, the Shaw Festival, the Canada Council (for which he established the Walter Carsen Prize), as well as other numerous organizations and above all, his beloved National Ballet of Canada, whose home proudly bears his name as The Walter Carsen Centre. Walter also was deeply concerned about the plight of the homeless in his city of Toronto, and to this end he started a fund for the homeless with the United Way of Greater Toronto. Walter's unique contribution led to him being chosen as one of the first recipients of the Mont Blanc de la Culture Award for Philanthropy. He was made a Member and subsequently an Officer of the Order of Canada, and was awarded a joint honorary Doctorate (together with his son Robert), by York University. Walter lived his life with vigor, zest and courage. He was exemplary in his ability to adapt to the constant changes that life brings us. He loved tennis, bicycling and nature, spending hours in his garden feeding the chipmunks and squirrels: he thought that green was the best colour. Johanni and Robert send their heartfelt thanks to the Mount Sinai Hospital, to Qualicare, to his doctor Marvin Waxman, and above all to the incredible team of people who cared for him with love and devotion to the end of his life: Lilia Alves, Gary Coughlan, Jubert Gabuyo, Alex Georgakopoulos, Cristopher Gunnacao, Edgar Miranda, Louwie Ramos, Dirksen Taguiam, Jose Tesoro and Rodolfo Villanueva. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and all of his nurses and staff. Please send donations in his memory to the Walter Carsen Fund for the Homeless, c/o The Tomorrow Fund of the United Way of Greater Toronto, and further, consider making the difference that Walter made by following his example and extending your support, no matter how large or small, to any Arts Organization that is meaningful to you. Walter Carsen, born Cologne, Germany August 14, 1912, died October 8, 2012, Toronto, Canada.


Published in the Toronto Star from Oct. 11 to Oct. 13, 2012