Kimon Valaskakis OWN R.I.P. 1941-2016

Written by  //  September 29, 2016  //  Absent Friends, Wednesday Nights  //  5 Comments

29 September
The Celebration of Kimon’s life was held this evening at Sauvé House. The reception rooms were filled with admirers,colleagues and friends of all ages, a vast web of relationships to Kimon throughout his multiple iterations as author, futurist, teacher, politician, diplomat, internationally respected thinker and founder/president of The New School of Athens (NSoA). As might be expected, the conversation was animated and filled with affectionate reminiscence of someone who had influenced our thinking on the most important issues of  our lives.  Many Wednesday Nighters were present including  U de M colleague Professor Rodrigue Tremblay and his wife Carole; Linda Julien who spoke of shared adventures and laughter during Kimon’s political career; the Hon. Donald Johnston, who served as secretary general of the OECD during the time Kimon was Canada’s ambassador to that organization; Wanda Potrykus who painstakingly edited his last book, Buffets & Breadlines; Marion Canute whose editorial advice Kimon often sought;  Susanna Eyton-Jones, Director of Cultural Development of NSoA; and Brian Morel, who masterminded several videos for NSoA, particularly the Montreal Conference.
I was honoured and deeply touched to be invited to speak on behalf of Wednesday Night; Kimon was such an integral part of our gatherings over the years.
Here are the notes for my brief speech:

Kimon Valaskakis – a tribute

He brought his own magic with him

He lit up any room with his presence, his unquenchable enthusiasm, intellectual curiosity, encyclopedic knowledge, and passion for debate on almost any topic.
Most especially the room at Wednesday Night, whether for many years, the panelled dining room at 33 Rosemount – not unlike this beautiful room – or the brighter rooms in our new home at Haddon Hall.

Surprisingly, I cannot remember when or how I first met Kimon, and obviously did not realize what a profound influence he would have on our life and the lives of so many of our friends.
He was an early and devoted Wednesday Nighter. He loved the debates and often incorporated ideas advanced around our table – if only to dispute them – in his writings or talks. Many of them appear in Buffets & Breadlines, voiced by characters who are thinly-veiled Wednesday Night personalities.

As mentioned by his ISO colleagues, Kimon loved titles and greatly enjoyed being named a member of the Order of Wednesday Night (OWN) – an entity we created somewhat in jest for distinguished Wednesday Nighters many of whom had been overlooked by the Order of Canada and/or Quebec. Kimon duly noted that while there were not many privileges accorded to OWN members, the most important was a seat up-front and close to the peanuts.

In the past year, I had the good fortune to introduce Kimon electronically to a small, passionate group of people from around the world who exchange news and views on geopolitics.
One of them, a distinguished Scandinavian diplomat, wrote to me, following Kimon’s death:
“For Kimon to exit on the day of Brexit is quite dramatic. He was a firm supporter of the European Dream and, according to my brother, demonstrated that in OECD. I knew him only through your good offices, enjoyed his intellect, our civilised disagreements and his commitment to what he believed in. A human being to my liking, worthy of respect and admiration. If possible, please convey these, my profound sentiments, to those missing him.”

How wonderful that we are gathered at Sauvé House, where Kimon presided over the Gamma Institute/ISO Group from the same office that Ion occupies today as president of the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation.
Appropriate also because Kimon shared the Sauvé Foundation vision of young people as changemakers. He was a devoted teacher and great mentor. Notably for someone of his generation, he encouraged and mentored numerous gifted young women, some of whom, like Désirée McGraw and Carolina Gallo,  are with us today while others mourn his passing from far-away postings where they fulfill their and his dreams for them. Wherever they are, they know how much he delighted in (and happily took some credit for) their success.

It was noted by many how appropriate it was that Kimon died almost at the very moment that the results of the Brexit vote were announced. Equally appropriate is that we celebrate his life as Montreal hosts the by-invitation-only Global Think Tank Summit III. He would certainly have been an eager participant and insistent that they must all become think-and-do tanks.

Kimon was always a larger-than-life presence in all our lives. Not a day goes by without a news item or opinion piece about which our first thought is “what does Kimon say about this?”
We are sure that he is happily participating in the Wednesday-Night-in-the-sky with several good friends who have preceded him and is taking note of those items.

We miss him deeply and will do so for many years to come.


7 July
Valaskakis, Kimon Professeur retraité à l’Université de Montréal et ancien ambassadeur du Canada auprès de l’OCDE, Dr Kimon Valaskakis, Président de la Nouvelle École d’Athènes, s’est éteint dans la nuit du 24 juin 2016, après une lutte de 4 mois contre un cancer de l’oesophage.Il laisse dans le deuil ses trois fils, Andrew (Eliza), Ion (Meganne) et Paris (Allison), sa soeur Rhéa, ses nièces Tamar (Florian) et Jocelyne (Franck) et leurs enfants, sa cousine Panorea (Quinzio) et ses enfants, ainsi que sa famille à Paris, Bruxelles, Athènes, Londres et dans le Wisconsin.Il sera regretté par ses nombreux amis au Canada et en Europe qui partageaient son amour pour les débats animés, l’histoire politique, les jeux de cartes et d’échecs, la mythologie grecque et les drames shakespeariens.La famille souhaite exprimer sa profonde reconnaissance envers l’équipe des soins palliatifs à domicile du CLSC Côte-des-Neiges, la clinique de naturopathie à Cornwall, ainsi que les employés de l’Hôpital Saint-Luc.La famille tiendra une cérémonie religieuse privée. Une célébration publique de sa vie est prévue à Montréal, à l’occasion du 75e anniversaire de sa naissance, le 29 septembre 2016. Avis de décès La Presse 07/07-07/16
September 29, 1941 – June 24, 2016
Retired professor at the University of Montreal and former Ambassador of Canada at the OECD, Dr. Kimon Valaskakis, President of the New School of Athens, passed away early on Friday, June 24, 2016 after a stoic 4-month struggle with esophageal cancer. He is survived by his three sons, Andrew (Eliza), Ion (Meganne) and Paris (Allison), his sister Rhéa, his nieces Tamar (Florian) and Jocelyne (Franck) and their children, his cousin Panorea (Quinzio) and her children, as well as close relatives in Paris, Brussels, Athens, London and Wisconsin. He will be mourned by countless friends in Canada and across Europe who shared his love of fierce debate, marathon card games, epic chess matches, Greek Mythology, Napoleonic Lore and Shakespearean Drama. The family wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to the Palliative Home Care Team at the CLSC Côte- des-Neiges, the Cornwall Naturopathic Clinic, as well as the staff at St-Luc Hospital. The family is holding a small private religious memorial and there will be a public celebration of his life on what would have been his 75th birthday – Thursday, September 29, 2016 – in Montreal. Montreal Gazette

4 July
Update Message from Ion Valaskakis:
On behalf of my family, I’d like to express our thanks to all of you who have reached to us while we grieve the passing of my father, Kimon Valaskakis. My brothers Paris Valaskakis and Andrew along with my cousin Tamar Tembeck have been extremely touched by the outpouring of messages, calls and condolences extended to us in the past 10 days.
After conferring with the family, we’ve decided to hold a very small and intimate religious service for Kimon now and then hold a public celebration of his life on September 29 – what would have been his 75th birthday – in Montreal.
We’ll be back in touch with all of you who have expressed interest in paying your respects as the fall celebration of Kimon’s life takes shape. In the meantime, thanks again for your gestures of support during this challenging time.

Friday, 24 June
We have just learned from Tullio Cedraschi that Kimon has left us for Wednesday-Night-in-the-sky where he will join his great friends, Germaine Gibara and Scot Gardiner, along with other Wednesday Nighters with whom he enjoyed such lively debates: Knut Hammarskjold, Jacques Clément, Udo Stundner and, of course, Carl Beigie.
According to Tullio’s message: He was with his sons and he didn’t suffer.
“A couple of days ago, he felt bad and cancelled his scheduled trip to Cornwall, in Ontario, for his treatment, which is not provided in Quebec. Less than 48 hours later he was gone.”
So very sad. Kimon was always a larger-than-life presence in all our lives.
It seems curiously fitting that he should have left us as we try to absorb the news of Brexit.
We have no further details at this time, but will keep you informed.
Our hearts go out to Ion, Paris and Andrew.
Diana & David

Kimon and Astri Reusch
Kimon was a prince among men. I wrote to Ion a few weeks ago, describing Kimon as someone who had an intellect larger than Mars, and a heart and soul even bigger.
When I awoke this morning to the deeply demoralising and distressing news of the BREXIT referendum, I found myself imagining what Kimon would have had to say. It would have been deep and trenchant and would have challenged every reader to the core. That’s what he did, it’s who he was.
The blessing in this sad passing is that Kimon went without pain and surrounded by his sons, who I know he adored and who loved him.
Sending love and light
Johannah Bernstein

Dear Diana
Thank you for informing me. For Kimon to exit on the day of Brexit is quite dramatic. He was a firm supporter of the European Dream and, according to my brother Kari, demonstrated that in OECD. I knew him only through your good offices, enjoyed his intellect, our civilised disagreements and his commitment to what he believed in. A human being to my liking, worth respect and admiration. If possible, please convey these my profound sentiments to those missing him.
Baron Tauno Bergholm

My heart is absolutely broken. Kimon will live on in our memories. He left a great number of friends, close friends. I will always remember his laugh.
Robert J. Galbraith

That’s so sad, Diana. You are correct, Kimon was larger than life. May he rest in peace.
Margaret Somerville AM, FRSC, DCL
McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law

OMG. What a shock. Very sad indeed.
My condolences to friends and family.
Mario Iacobacci

Thanks, although so very sad to receive such a devastating and irreversible news. I wanted to contact you this coming week to see if you knew of Kimon’s health status to assess if I could go and visit him.. Well, painful reminder that time is of the essence, and that certain things cannot be postponed, for they might be impossible to replicate.
Do keep me informed of the details, as he is so deserving of homage and recognition.
Linda Julien

Chère Diane,
J’apprends avec tristesse et surprise, par votre entremise, le décès de mon collègue Kimon Valaskakis.
Kimon a fait carrière à l’Université de Montréal en tant qu’historien économique pendant plusieurs années. En fait, Kimon était un économiste politique international, car il s’intéressait à tous les problèmes économiques et à toutes les politiques économiques et institutionnelles. Il avait un très bon jugement et un esprit lucide. Il sera fortement regretté.
J’offre mes plus sincères condoléances, et celle de mon épouse Carole, à sa famille, notamment à ses trois fils Ion, Paris et Andrew.
Professeur Rodrigue Tremblay
Professeur émérite, Université de Montréal,

Such sad news. The world is a smaller place without Kimon’s voice in it.
Thank you for letting me know, Diana.

So sorry to hear that, Diana. In a way, it’s nice Kimon decided to leave before last night’s dismal Brexit vote, which goes against so much of what he stood for.
John Curtin,
Kaos Films

Hard to lose such a dynamic figure. Sigh. David Jones

5 Comments on "Kimon Valaskakis OWN R.I.P. 1941-2016"

  1. steven lightfoot June 25, 2016 at 4:16 pm ·

    Diana, Thank you for informing us. What a huge loss and a sad day. Although I have not been around much lately due to my young family, I am always there in spirit, and have often thought of Kimon and his comments and ideas.

  2. Tracey Arial June 25, 2016 at 9:02 pm ·

    So sorry to hear this about Kimon. He was so passionate about everyone and everything, it seems impossible that he’s no longer here to defend his ideas. Such a shame. The world has lost someone of great substance.

  3. Carolina Gallo September 26, 2016 at 6:21 pm ·

    In early 1980’s, when I was a political science student at Concordia University, Paris Arnopoulos and your father hired me to work on the Futures congress that was held at Université de Montréal, a gathering that brought hundreds of groups from all over from “learned societies”. It was an epic moment and he and Paris would often be found at the ANNEXE on Bishop and many of us would join into these long conversations about poiltiics and life. It was great. and I also have memories as a student driving with your father with other students to Ottawa and he spoke about the National capital commission.
    Please accept my condolences on your loss.

  4. Sam Stein September 30, 2016 at 12:41 pm ·

    Dear Ion,
    Like so many others who came to know him (in my case, through the Nicholsons’ Wednesday Night Salon), I will always treasure the many insights that he so generously shared with all of us. He will be profoundly missed but not replaced; the combination of his intellect, broad range of knowledge, curiosity, interest in others, energy and passion made him genuinely unique and unforgettable.
    Once again, please accept my sympathies.
    Sam Stein

Comments are now closed for this article.