Swiss business woman and philanthropist Sonja Bata Died at 91

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Sonja I. Bata (or Sonja Baťová; née Wettstein) wa born on November 8, 1926, in Zurich and died on February 20, 2018.

She was a Swiss businesswoman, philanthropist, and museum founder.

Sonja trained as an architect. After she got married to Thomas J. Bata of Bata Shoes, Bata left her architecture studies, and moved to Toronto in 1946, befriending those in the architecture community: Raymond Moriyama designed the Bata Shoe Museum while John Cresswell Parkin designed the impressive Don Mills headquarters of Bata Shoes and the family’s country house in Batawa.

Though she had earlier envisioned herself to become a great architect, she set her designs on improving the Bata Shoe company.

Also in the 1940s, she began collecting shoes and studying their history. During 1979, she endowed the Bata Shoe Museum Foundation. Founded in 1995, The Bata Shoe Museum, which is the world’s largest shoe museum and the core collection is attributed to Bata.

She was the museum’s chairperson.

Bata was also the chair of the National Design Council (1970s).

Bata helped establish the Toronto French School.

She also served as the director of the Art Gallery in Ontario, she was a member on the board of Alcan and Canada Trustco.

She was connected to the World Wildlife Fund and became an Honorary Captain in the RCN and sponsor of HMCS Ottawa.

Sonja Bata was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1983.

She leaves four children, Thomas George, Jr. (born 1948), Christine (born 1953), Monica (born 1955), and Rosemarie (born 1960).

Sonja’s father-in-law is Tomáš Baťa, the founder of Bata Shoes.

She died on 91 years old.