Our Squadron’s Loss is the Community’s Loss

The Squadron is saddened by the recent death of our immediate Past Commander: Hans-Hubert Latzel, MD. Those of you who didn’t know Hubert, and those who did, will enjoy the very brief overview of his life provided by another Past Commander of the Parry Sound Squadron, Marianne King-Wilson.

Past Commander Hubert Latzel died a few days ago.  He was found aboard his houseboat-cruiser, Whiskey Jack, where he lived each summer.

Hubert described himself as “addicted to Georgian Bay”.  These were his home waters, and he knew the area well.  An accomplished photographer, he focused on nature.  Whether the smallest patch of moss or mushroom, or the watersnake beside his boat, or the birds at his feeder, Hubert turned his lens to their beauty.

The natural world brought out his poetic side. In describing a tall gnarled tree trunk he saw a sentinel: “the custodian of Big Snake Island.  For others, it’s only a crippled tree, and for some it is just firewood.  But…close your eyes and listen–don’t you hear a deep roaring cry from a dying tree?”

Hubert was a keen observer of the world, science and politics; his blogs were an analytical and eclectic reflection of the thoughtful, outspoken person he was.
A willing volunteer,  Hubert was always eager to help at a Squadron function, and joined the Bridge within a few years of completing Boating. He was generous with his time.  First he served as Membership officer and then moved to Exec, and Commander.  He told the members he was honoured to be the Commander during the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Squadron, with so many celebratory events.

He never missed a Canada Day Sailpast.  It held special meaning for him, as “a newbie Canadian” as he called himself.  At the 2012 sailpast, flags were lowered on all boats in tribute to Hubert.

Hubert came from an ancient Austrian family of entrepreneurs who had started a school for weavers, later introduced the first modern kiln for quicklime, and then developed the sugar beet industry, with three agricultural schools to educate farmers.   Despite the ravages of wars, one of the schools is still operating.

War changed the course of Hubert’s life when the SS killed his father. Still a toddler, with his mother and three siblings, Hubert travelled on foot, in cattle cars, and by any means possible, to his mother’s home town near Dusseldorf.  Much of it was destroyed, and thus Hubert said, “I grew up between ruins.”

He pined for the woods and the animals and fresh air, and so eventually returned to a Jesuit school in Austria and a high school which taught natural science.  He graduated in Medicine from University of Muenster, Germany.

As a respected physician, he practised the healing profession for many years before his early retirement and move to Canada, where his son Markus had just started a family with his wife Marilyn.

Hubert easily took up the role of grandfather with a wealth of knowledge about nature and science to share with his granddaughters Maya and Marissa.  They spent happy days together exploring his favourite islands aboard Whiskey Jack.

Hubert passed the family gift for entrepreneurship to his sons Markus and Edrik, who now run successful businesses in Canada and Germany, following their own passions.

Hubert’s kindliness and generosity of spirit will be greatly missed by his family and friends.

Funeral arrangements entrusted to Torrance will be announced in due course.

Hubert once said that in his next life he wanted to be a bird.  Now is that time, soaring free over the Bay, with a transcendent vista that can only be imagined.

The Whiskey Jack

Communications Officer note: Hubert’s heartfelt pictorial overview of The Snakes can be found through this link. With time, and as his site is inevitably retired and lost to the public, we will will host a copy at our site. In the meantime take the opportunity to peek through the eyes of another human being.