Louis Michael Iribarne

We mourn the sudden passing of Louis Michael Iribarne, born in San Francisco in September 1940, died in Victoria, British Columbia, on December 5, 2020. A writer, translator and professor, he was above all a man devoted to family. Beloved husband of 56 years, Louis is survived by his wife Thekla and two children Lucien and Jeanne (with partner Thom). He had a close and joyous relationship with his two grandchildren, Felix and Freya. Though separated by distance, Louis’s sister Maxine and brother Richard remained in his thoughts, as well as his niece and nephews.

Born to a Basque shepherd and a feisty Australian, Louis worked his way through university, beginning at the University of Notre Dame, Stanford University, and finishing with a Ph.D. in Slavic literatures from the University of California (Berkeley). There, he met the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz and translated several of his major works into English. In addition to Miłosz, Louis translated the works of Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Witold Gombrowicz, and the science fiction writer Stanisław Lem. He was devoted to translating, always seeking to convey the spirit and energy of the original, and to teaching young people. For many years, he was a Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto. He also leaves behind his own many works, including a trilogy of novels, Yokohama, never fully finished to his own exacting standards.

We remember him best aboard his canoe and kayak on the open waters, free and full of vitality, ready for adventure. In lieu of flowers, donations to Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF Canada (Doctors without Borders) are gratefully accepted.

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Condolence Messages

  1. My deepest condolences to Thekla and family on Louis’s passing.

  2. Prof. Iribarne was always my favourite professor at the U of T
    Teacher + guider of the mind expanding Polish Film Studies course
    Which determined that i must also take his Russian Film course
    i was one of those young people he taught – and transformed
    Thekla, Lucien + Jeanne
    so sorry. stay strong.

  3. Dear Thekla, Lucien & Jeanne & family, I send my love to you all during this sad time of grief! Louis was a vibrant soul with a curiosity & enthusiasm & energy for everything he did in Life! ! He made me seem slow… & I live in overdrive. I always admired his passion for nature & music & his pride & adoration for all of you! My fondest memories of him were listening to him singing along with his Italian Opera during a lovely dinner served by you, Thekla! It was pure live entertainment, of the best kind. His energy was sooo invigorating. I also enjoyed hiking with him & Lucien…. & wondered how to keep up with him. He was so fit & strong & flew up the mountain like he had owned it! I learned something from him, in every conversation. You are the most beautiful family & I’m sorry for your loss! He leaves behind .., quite the legacy. I can see & hear him teaching others on the other side in the heavenly realm. He was a “larger than life personality“ & missed his calling in Hollywood… a real treat to know. That photo of him captures HIS SPIRIT PERFECTLY. His body has passed but his ENERGY WILL BE ALL AROUND YOU! You are all in my thoughts & heart, NOW & ALWAYS! 💙Thank you Louis & Thekla for the gift of Lucien & Jeanne to the world & to me. They are the coolest most awesome people … the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! 😇🙏

  4. Dear Lucien , I am so very sorry to hear of the passing of your father. Having read his obituary, I see why you are the wonderful man that I came to know over the years that you were in our lives. He lived a full and exciting life and I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers as your mourn his passing.
    Sincerely, Sharon( Carol’s sister)!

  5. Dear Lucien and family,

    Please accept our deepest condolences on the passing of your father. On behalf of Jim and our family, we hope your treasured memories will sustain you during these difficult days of loss.

    Peace to your hearts,
    Therese Bowler ( Carol’s sister)

  6. My condolences to my amazing friend Lucien and his family. I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Iribane but I want to say I am so priviledged to be his son’s good friend. Mr. Iribane, you raised amazing children and your son has been a rock for me since the day we met. Rest In Peace Mr. Iribane.

  7. I am heartbroken to learn of your loss. Lucien and family – you are in my prayers as you navigate the deep waters of grief. I know you will find comfort in your sweet memories and in the love which surrounds you.

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