The passing of Sonja BataThe founder of the Bata Shoe Museum, the most important footwear collection in the world, died on 20 February 2018 in Toronto
She left us at the age of 91, certainly with a smile. Because Sonja Bata was always smiling. She had a smile that made you feel like the most important person in the world. I knew and met “Mrs Bata” – as everyone called her – often during the 1980s. We got on well, and we were friends. She appeared to be fragile, but this certainly wasn’t the case. Together with Thomas Bata, her husband and business partner for many years, she saw the rebirth and growth of the company until it became the No. 1 shoe company in the world: “We proudly serve one million customers each day” was the slogan that accompanied the Bata world at that time.
She was a woman full of enthusiasm, able to cultivate her experiences until they became passions. This is how the Bata Shoe Museum of Toronto was born. It was 1995 and Sonja Bata’s face exuded happiness. Like the time she told me – joking, but not really – that she had found the socks worn by Napoleon while exiled in St Helena. Who knows if it was true?!
What is true is the fact that the collection of shoes in the Toronto Museum is the most important in the world. She created something destined to last forever, beyond any fashion, and this was certainly a source of pride for Sonja Bata.
Sonja Wettstein was born in Zurich in 1926 and graduated in architecture. She moved to Canada immediately after World War II together with her husband Thomas, who she had married at a very young age. Together they lived a fulfilling, exciting and vibrant life.
Good bye Sonja, I am sure that your smile will accompany you forever, now that you can be reunited with your Thomas. Best regards.