Business leader Marcel Desautels left local legacy
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Marcel Desautels, a Winnipeg business leader and one of the University of Manitoba’s major benefactors, died Tuesday in Toronto. He was 88.
Desautels’ $20-million donation to the university’s Faculty of Music in 2008 was the largest private donation the U of M had ever received; it renamed the faculty the Desautels Faculty of Music in his honour.
“Marcel’s legacy at UM is immeasurable,” Michael Benarroch, the university’s president and vice-chancellor says on the university’s website. “We are deeply grateful for the investments he made in the education and future of our students, as well as his commitment to arts and culture in this province.”
Half of Desautels’ gift went into an endowment fund to support scholarships and programs; the rest funds a concert hall at the Fort Garry campus, which is scheduled to open in the fall.
It was among many donations Desautels made to the U of M, as well as many other universities across Canada.
Desautels was born in St. Boniface in 1934 and had a lifelong enjoyment of music. He helped pay for his law-school tuition at the U of M by singing at weddings, funerals and clubs in Winnipeg.
He practised law privately, with Great-West Life and the Treasury Board of Canada, and in 1971 he founded Creditel, a credit reference and collection firm, which grew to 16 offices across Canada. He led the firm until 1996, when it was sold to Equifax.
He was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2008 and the Order of Manitoba in 2019.
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Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.