Dear friends and family,
Given the evolving circumstances, the Celebration is postponed. Hopefully it will not be too long before we can all safely get together again. In the meantime, you can still share your memories in our guest book on this site and post your favorite photos.
With all our love and very best wishes
Sonya, Mélina and Françoise
OBITUARY for Dr. Burt Konzak (1946 –2019)
Here are a few words we wish to share with you in remembrance of our father. If you so desire, you can contribute your own thoughts to this Obituary in the section below of the Mount Royal Commemorative Webpage.
On the morning of Sunday, November 24th, 2019, we said our final farewell to a wonderful husband of 49 years to our mother Françoise, our father, the grandfather to our children, a loving brother to Barbara, a mentor to so many, a teacher and a professor, an author and scholar, a Sensei, a friend. He will be long remembered by many who loved him and is already greatly missed.
Born in New York in 1946, dad grew up in Far Rockaway, a place by the Ocean which remained close to his heart all his life. He was introduced to the Art of Karate-Do and to Asian philosophy at his beloved Harpur College, Binghampton University, where he did his B.A. and Master’s degree. In 1970, he moved to Toronto in order to pursue his PhD Studies with a Japanese scholar at the University of Toronto. There in class, he met, Françoise, who convinced him to start teaching the Martial Arts to her, to fellow students, friends and members of the university community. This was the beginning of what soon became the Toronto Academy of Karate and a wonderful life rich with amazing people, fantastic trainings, a karate farm, Rocky mountain trainings, trips to Japan, teaching university courses in Ethics and Zen courses in our living room, writing books for youths of all ages and academic articles, travelling the many continents lecturing on Zen philosophy and the Martial Arts……
His books and their profound life messages, Noguchi the Samurai, Girl Power and Samurai Spirit accompanied us throughout our growing years and we are now reading them to our own children, Logan, Élise and Xavier. We are lucky to have grown in this environment and shared our father with a remarkable community of spirited Karate-ka, based in Toronto, Scarborough, Calgary, Orillia, Rochester,and who each individually brought him so much pride and joy.
Dad retired in 2011 and since then, thanks to all of you, this broad training community which shares his message of the Gentle Martial Arts has continued to bloom in many different and inspiring ways. In 2012 dad moved with our mother to Montréal to be close to us and our husbands Derek and Mathieu, settling on the beautiful Ile-des-Soeurs. Aware that he was facing new challenges, he accepted these with strength and serenity, because, as he said: “What is, is”.
Dad has shown us that even with a tragic illness like Alzheimer’s we can find joy together in everyday living and especially in the appreciation of the preciousness of family and friendships. Even when he became unable to walk or talk, he radiated with beautiful smiles and till the end, exuded courage and kindness, wisdom, strength and gentleness, as well as, we should not be surprised, maintaining the striking ability to say “thank you” whenever one of his caregivers provided a helping hand. No wonder they loved him so!
We in turn, would like to say, a very special thank you to our amazing mother who accompanied our dad every step of the way with love, strength and profound caring, to the highly supportive CLSC de Verdun, to all of dad’s wonderful aides and in particular Michelangelo, his trusted aide and friend for three years, without whom dad would not have been able to go through this entire journey while living at home, enjoying the outdoors, swimming in the pool, going on road trips and family outings … a happy life!
Dad will rest in the splendid Sculpture garden of the Mount Royal Cemetery. We wish to invite everyone to commemorate altogether his inextinguishable spirit during a Celebration of his Life on June 6, 2020 at 2pm in Montréal on our beautiful Mount Royal where you can visit his memorial inscription.
We invite you as well to participate in a training at the base of Mount Royal the very next morning, at 10 am, on Sunday June 7, 2020. You will find the details of the Celebration and the Training, above, in the Obituary Section of the Mount Royal Cemetery Web page.
In lieu of flowers, please contribute to our fundraising half-marathon for the Montréal Alzheimer’s Society which we will run as Team Burt Konzak on June 14,2020. This year’s half-marathon will take place in Pointe -Claire. We are proud to say that last year, thanks to your generosity, we were able to raise $6,000. while participating in the Lachine Half-marathon for Alzheimer’s. Details are found above in the Obituary section of the Mount Royal Cemetery Web Page, and on our Facebook pages.
Mélina and Sonya