Beloved Veteran Quietly Changes Lives
The word philanthropy means love of humankind. This word described Rudi Hoenson’s outlook on life and what inspired him to give back to his community, locally and regionally.
Rudi was a dedicated friend and champion to many charities and wanted nothing showy, no big fanfare in return for his generosity. Yet that generosity was monumental in its reach and impact. Our hospitals were beneficiaries of his generosity and for that we are so grateful.
What he endured during and after the Second World War is difficult to imagine—slave labour as a prisoner of war, starvation, the Nagasaki atomic bomb and its harrowing aftermath, which he experienced first-hand on the ground. Also astonishing is how Rudi became—after experiencing considerable suffering and cruelty—even more committed to the welfare of others. How, from behind the scenes, he was moved to make a profound difference in our community.
Rudi Hoenson (photo: YOUR Magazine Victoria of MDM Publishing shot by Maryam Morrison)
At the Victoria Hospitals Foundation (VHF) we knew Rudi’s quiet generosity personally. Over 19 years, Rudi gave generously to VHF to fund new, life-changing medical equipment for our local hospitals. Patients from Ophthalmology to Medical Imaging benefit from Rudi’s thoughtful gifts. The many unique and beautiful art and collectable items that Rudi generously gave as auction items for our Visions gala told the story of a widely travelled and curious man.
Rudi began his philanthropy journey alongside his wife and soulmate, Sylvia. Together, they founded the Rudi and Sylvia Hoenson Foundation through the Victoria Foundation. When Sylvia died in 2008, Rudi was heartbroken. He turned his focus to his community and became even more dedicated to local charities.
Rudi was recognized with a Generosity of Spirit Award, bestowed on him at Association of Fundraising Professionals Vancouver Island’s National Philanthropy Day awards. He was also honoured with a Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation from the Lieutenant Governor of BC.
Rudi’s resilience, his strength of character, and his expansive spirit will be remembered. His monumental generosity has made our Vancouver Island community a better place to live for all of us—and it will continue to improve our community for generations to come. Rudi, we will miss you.