William Leo Holt (Bill) passed away peacefully at Toronto Western Hospital on February 15, 2016 after a brief illness. He was surrounded by family and many dear friends in his final days.
Bill was born in Toronto in 1942 to Finnish immigrants, William and Annie Holt (nee Pylvainen). As a child he spent summers at his family’s cottage on Georgian Bay where he developed an enduring appreciation of the outdoors. He attended the University of Toronto where he earned a Bachelor of Commerce and an MBA and was a member of the fraternity Phi Kappa Sigma, through which he met a number of lifelong friends. After graduation he started his career as an accountant with Clarkson Gordon (now Ernst & Young), married and began his own family.
In 1976 he embarked on a life of entrepreneurial initiatives when he began working with Canadian businessman and diplomat Maurice Strong. He also served as vice chairman of one of Canada’s largest textile companies and was chairman of a publicly-listed Internet company.
Bill was active in a number of international organizations such as the Carnegie Institute for Science, the World Economic Forum, the Canadian Council for the Americas and the Earth Council, a Costa Rica based environmental NGO. Over the years, he became an avid traveller, raising his family in Toronto, Phoenix, Arizona and London, England and frequently visited cities across Canada and around the world. He often brought his children on these travels, instilling in them a similar appreciation for exploration and adventure. At various times, Bill was also a marathon runner, downhill skier and squash player and loved walking in his beloved Toronto.
He embraced his Finnish heritage during his later years, becoming a member of the Finnish Expatriate Parliament and a much-loved President of the Canadian Friends of Finland. He had deep affection for his family in Finland, who embraced him lovingly on his numerous trips there. Bill had a thirst for learning, serving as a board member of the University Club of Toronto and as a member of the Academy for Lifelong Learning (University of Toronto campus) where he attended, and taught, lectures on history, economics and geopolitics.
Bill was predeceased by his parents. He is survived by his dear companion of the past twenty years, Miriam Grassby of Montreal; his children, Christopher (Audrey) and their children Emma, Benjamin and Sophie of Georgetown, Ontario; Carrie (Rob) and their children Finn and Anne of Nanaimo, B.C.; Charles (Adrienn) and their son Matthew of Toronto; and his former spouse Patricia Hornsby of Picton, Ontario.
A Celebration of Life will be held at York Cemetery Chapel, 160 Beecroft Road, Toronto, on Saturday February 20, 2016 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations may be made to the Canadian Friends of Finland Education Foundation by clicking the DONATE button in the top right corner of any page on this website.