The Hamilton Spectator
Kate Turkstra was ‘this incredible person’
Kate Turkstra is being remembered as a “passionate patron” of the Hamilton arts scene.
The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Theatre Aquarius and Westdale Theatre all posted social media condolences on Turkstra, who died Jan. 21 at age 86.
The Dundas resident was half of a partnership with her late husband, Carl Turkstra. They believed a modern city should have a thriving arts community and founded the Incite Foundation for the Arts in 2011. It supported a wide variety of arts education and music programs across Hamilton, both large and small. By 2014, it had donated more than $500,000.
Carl was a civil engineer and former president of the bustling and family-owned Turkstra Lumber Co. He died at age 85 on May 22 of last year.
“The HPO remembers Kate Turkstra, a passionate patron of music and the arts and longtime friend of the HPO,” the orchestra said. It noted the creation of the Incite Foundation by her and her husband and said, “Through the foundation Kate and Carl leave a lasting legacy of support for a thriving arts and culture scene in Hamilton.”
The Westdale Theatre called Turkstra “a passionate advocate for the arts in Hamilton” and noted the couple “graciously” supported restoring and saving the theatre. The Art Gallery of Hamilton said it was “deeply saddened” by the passing of Turkstra and noted the couple’s legacy at the AGH in arts education, free Thursdays and exhibitions. Theatre Aquarius called Turkstra “this incredible person.”
“She along with her husband, Dr. Carl Turkstra, were outstanding supporters of the arts in Hamilton,” it said.
Her son, Peter, who ran Turkstra Lumber after his father, said his mother was funny and did not take herself too seriously. She liked to wear fashionable clothes, but was mindful of her spending.
“When she saw a nice table discarded on the side of the road, she would stop and pick it up,” said Peter. “She wasn’t shy.”
Her brother-in-law, Hamilton lawyer Herman Turkstra, recalled getting a call from London from his brother Carl to ask him whether he should marry Kate. He said from “his description of her, I told him he would be a lucky man if he did and that he should move quickly.”
“Kate was a fabulous addition to the family,” Herman Turkstra said on social media. “She brought a whole new dimension to our Dutch self-righteousness with a very earthy down to earth approach to life and a level of patience.”
While he said she loved living in metropolitan cities around the world, he said she found ways to live in Hamilton, including taking walks all over the community.
“There is no doubt in my mind that she was a driving force behind Carl’s great work building Hamilton’s performing arts,” added Turkstra. “She was a very special woman for whom I had great affection.”
In 2016, Kate and Carl Turkstra were inducted into the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction.
Kathleen (Kate) Nicholson was born Aug. 13, 1936, in the Lake District in Cumbria, England. Her father was a railway worker. She met her husband at a party in London after she went there to become a nurse.
The couple also lived in Montreal, Mexico City, Paris, New York and Brooklyn before her husband was called home in 1989 to run the lumber company. They lived in those places for work or on sabbaticals from her husband’s teaching jobs.
Turkstra served as head nurse at Maimonides Hospital when her husband served as a professor of civil engineering at McGill University in Montreal. She also worked as a nurse in clinics in other cities, including a methadone clinic in New York City.
Turkstra is survived by her children, Peter and Jennifer, and four grandchildren. She is also survived by family in England and Wales. She was predeceased by her twin, Raymond, and siblings, Ada, Bobby and George.
They believed a modern city should have a thriving arts community and founded the Incite Foundation for the Arts in 2011