Alfred Bader Death – We are extremely devastated to announce the death of Alfred Bader, who passed away on Sunday, August 28 in Milwaukee.
Alfred Bader was born on April 28, 1924, in Vienna, Austria. His father, Alfred Bader, was of Czech Jewish descent. His grandfather, Moritz Ritter von Bader, had been a civil engineer, who worked on the Suez Canal and was knighted by Emperor Franz Josef for his service as Austrian consul at Ismaïlia. His mother, Elizabeth Countess Serényi, came from an aristocratic Catholic Hungarian family. In spite of adamant opposition from Serényi’s family, the couple had married in London and settled in Vienna. Alfred was born only two weeks before his father’s death. He was adopted by his father’s sister, Gisela Reich, and raised as a Jew. His older sister, Marion, remained with Countess Serényi and was raised as a Catholic.
In June 1938, Bader was forced out of school because Jews were forbidden to attend beyond the age 14. On December 10, 1938, he was sent from Austria to England as part of the Kindertransport to escape Nazi persecution. His adoptive mother remained in Austria, and died in 1942 in Theresienstadt.
While in England, Bader attended the East Hove Senior School for Boys, and Brighton Technical College. In 1940 he was sent to a Canadian internment camp for European refugees (which Bader described as spartan but a good influence on his academic and social education). While in the camp, Bader passed his junior and senior matriculation, taking exams from McGill University. A Montreal sponsor, Martin Wolff, welcomed him into a Canadian Jewish family in late 1941 and encouraged him to study further.
Bader’s marriages are described in his autobiographical books. His romance in England with Isabel Overton (1926-2022), the daughter of a deeply religious Protestant family in Northern Ontario and a graduate of Victoria University in Toronto, began with a shipboard meeting in 1949 and continued in a rapid courtship and some 400 love letters. Isabel broke off the relationship because of religious concerns and settled in Bexhill-on-Sea in Sussex, England but did not become romantically involved with anyone else. Her love letters to Alfred Bader have been published as A Canadian in Love, 2000.
Alfred went on to meet and marry his first wife Helen Ann “Danny” Daniels, in the United States. Similar in many ways to Isabel, including a Protestant religious upbringing, Danny converted to Judaism before Bader proposed to her. Married in July 1952, they had two sons, David (born 1958) and Daniel (born 1961). Danny worked at Aldrich Chemicals, and owned shares in the company.
Nearly three decades later Alfred re-connected with Isabel, which led to the breakdown of his marriage with Danny; Danny requested a divorce in 1981 and died six years later. Alfred subsequently married Isabel and the two remained happily married until his death. Alfred and Danny’s two sons, David and Daniel, now serve as half-owners of Alfred Bader Fine Arts. (Descendants of Bader’s onetime partner in that gallery, Marvin Klitsner, now own the other half.) They also serve as president and vice-president of Bader Philanthropies, a foundation originally formed in 1992, now honouring Helen Daniels Bader and Isabel and Alfred Bader.
Isabel Bader was predeceased by her husband Alfred in 2018, and is survived by her stepsons Daniel and David, brother Clifford Overton, and extended family.
Funeral services will take place on Tuesday in Milwaukee at 1PM CST, with several Queen’s employees travelling to attend.