Wilhelm Pilz

Obituary of Wilhelm Pilz


May 13, 1945 - August 3, 2019


Wilhelm was the cherished husband of Joan, loving father of Matthew (Adela) and Michael (Nicky), and doting grandpa of Charlie, Chloe, and Zachary.


Willi was born to Franziska and Stefan Pilz in the small village of Thalheim an der Mur, Styria, Austria, at the very end of World War II.  He was an only child, having arrived late in his parents’ lives, but grew up with his older cousin Heinz, whom he always considered his brother.  Willi enjoyed a carefree childhood in his rural environment.  At 15, he apprenticed with the Austrian Post and Telephone Administration.  After his apprenticeship, he passed the Skilled Labourer’s Examination and received his certification as a communications technician in 1964.


After a short time with the Telephone and Telegraph Administration, Willi set out for Sindelfingen, Germany, to work at the IBM plant there.  In 1966, he went to Mainz for further training.  While there, Willi took English lessons that IBM offered to its employees.  Joan was studying at the university, teaching English once a week, and the rest is history.


Adventurous soul that he was, Willi immigrated to Canada in 1968 to rejoin Joan.  They were married in San Francisco on June 6, 1969. 


Willi worked at the International Institute while studying English there.  He then worked for Burroughs Business Machines.  Realizing that his prospects were limited without a higher education, Willi went to night school to get his Grade 13 equivalency.  He then enrolled at York University as a mature student, receiving his B.A. in Business Administration.


CIBC became his first job after graduation.  While working, Willi went to night school again to earn his MBA.  He moved to BMO, where he was a banker.  He later joined Nesbitt Burns, where he finished his working life as an investment advisor in 2006.


Willi was a gifted handyman who could build or fix almost anything in the house or the cottage.  He loved to putter in both gardens and to ride his ATV on the back roads of Fraserburg in Muskoka, getting stuck in the mud more than once.


At the end of January of this year, Willi was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.  He faced this diagnosis with bravery and pragmatism, making sure that his family would be well taken care of.  Willi went through one round of chemotherapy; a CT scan showed that the cancer had spread rapidly and mercilessly.  Choosing to enjoy his remaining days as much as possible, Willi discontinued chemotherapy.


The family wishes to thank all of the wonderful doctors and nurses at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.  Special gratitude goes to Dr. Ed Etchells, Dr. Yooj Ko, Dr. Ali Tahir, Dr. Phillipe Toupin, and the incredible Dr. Debbie Selby.  As well, our heartfelt thanks go to Nurse Carmen in Chemotherapy.  Without the compassion, understanding, and warmth of these extraordinary caregivers, the family could not have survived this ordeal.


Willi died on Saturday, August 3rd, at home, surrounded by those who loved him dearly.  To the end, he remained true to himself: he retained his wickedly dry sense of humour, his strong stubborn streak, his immense love for family and friends, and his astonishing courage.


Willi is, and will forever be, sorely missed.


A gathering to remember Willi will be held at the Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Davisville) on Saturday, September 14th from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m.


In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in memory of Willi be made to The Palliative Care Unit, in care of The Sunnybrook Foundation, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, M4N 3M5, to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, or to a charity of your choice.