Thursday December 31, 2009
DON WATT 1936 - 2009 Don passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Wednesday December 23, 2009 at age 73. Totally loved husband of Patricia (nee Martin). Dear father of Peggy (Adam), Greg (Beth), Laura (Craig), Sarah, and stepson Robert. Proud grandfather of Katie, Jennifer, David and Lauren. Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Don attended Luther College there, and moved to Toronto in the mid-1950's to attend the Ontario College of Art. He was predeceased by Patricia Watt (nee Williams) and is survived by his first wife Val Mund. Recognized as an icon in his industry, Don worked with major retailers all over the world. He developed brands that today are still current, and store designs that remain some of the world's most recognizable. The list is very long and includes the following - redesign of the Loblaws stores, No Name and President's Choice; Wal-Mart Super Centres, Great Value and Sam's Choice; Home Depot with its distinctive orange logo and innovative store concept; and more recently the new Metro stores and packaging. While working for Nestle, Don was the first designer to use photo-symbolism on packaging for their instant coffee. He was recognized by the Harvard School of Business and was recently inducted into the Private Label Hall of Fame and into Canada's Marketing Hall of Legends. During Don's early career he worked as an animator for Warner Brothers. He then took a job at an advertising agency, where they asked him to design a cigarette package that would appeal to younger people. He pondered it for a few days and then quit, saying it did not feel right. This should tell you heaps about the man and his principles. He often said, 'just ask yourself what is the right thing to do and you won't go wrong.' He worked as a designer for A.V. Roe, working on the cockpit design for the Avro Arrow airplane, and he also worked on the design of the Canada Pavillion at Expo '67. One of Don's proudest achievements occurred in 1965 when his design was personally chosen by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson for the new Canadian Flag. Don's design, featured a realistic representation of a red maple leaf, flanked by two solid blue bands representing 'from sea to sea'. Pearson changed the blue bands to red, saying to Don, 'this is a Liberal flag'. Don's design, until recently, was credited to a design committee. However, it is now recognized as his work, by leading International and Canadian news and design publications. Don was a visionary with a brilliant mind. He changed how people shopped around the world. He could have lived and worked anywhere in the world, but he preferred to stay in Canada, a country he loved and often said, where he preferred to have his children raised. He was a man who was the epitome of being comfortable in his own skin. He was genuine. He was kind, and he had the most wonderful sense of humour. His feet were firmly planted on the ground and he always had lots of time for everyone, no matter their walk in life. Don was a generous man and a supporter of many charities. However the closest to his heart was the Clarke Institute. He recognized that mental health was an area where it was more difficult to raise money. He was instrumental in raising the $17 Million needed to purchase their first P.E.T. machine allowing doctors to more accurately diagnose disorders of the brain. He also helped bring the Courage to Come Back Dinner to Toronto, still one of CAMH's most successful fundraising events today. The Clarke merged with the Queen Street Mental Health Centre in 1998 to become CAMH. He was unselfish with his time and sat on many boards, giving them the advantage of his vast wealth of retail knowledge. Words cannot express how deeply he will be missed by his family, his long time business partner Geoff Belchetz at DW+Partners, and by the many people whose lives he touched. A private family service and burial will take place at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. A memorial service and celebration of Don's wonderful life is planned for a later date. The family graciously declines flowers, but donations may be made to the CAMH Research Centre at http://www.supportcamh.ca/donations.asp A Book of Condolences is available at www.etouch.ca where you can leave a message for the family.