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Born: Jun 10, 1944

Date of Passing: Nov 17, 2013

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LESLIE MUNDWILER June 10, 1944 - November 17, 2013 Leslie died of cancer at Riverview Health Centre while receiving compassionate care in the company of family and friends. Born in Galesburg, Illinois, Les was predeceased by his beloved grandmother, Florence, and parents, Madeline Juanita Carrico and Robert Eugene Mundwiler. He is survived by sisters Marsha Hill and Linda Mundwiler, and sister-in-law Marlene Mazzuca; daughter Carla, her partner Bryan Fishburn and their son Henry. Les earned a B.A. and M.A. (English) and in 1967, together with then-wife Sharon Wisemyn, Les renounced American citizenship in protest to the Vietnam War, becoming a Canadian citizen in 1972. He helped found housing Co-ops in Toronto and conducted related research for the Province of Manitoba. At the University of Winnipeg he taught English composition 1985 - 1986, and from 1984 to present was sole proprietor of Highbrow Books, a local book store and publisher. Les studied classical music and was active in the Manitoba chess scene, playing at Expert level, teaching students and competing in tournaments. Les published essays, criticism, fiction and poetry, recognized by notable Canadian writers such as David McFadden. His literary work, including a 1984 book on Michael Ondaatje, was rooted in theoretical interests and a humane, classical sensibility, shaped by preoccupations with imagination and Roman satire, tempered by shades of lyricism. For those who knew Les, his gently-stringent ethical standards could make you shrink in defensive fright, despite his hilarious send-ups, while you also admired the difficult dignity of his path of sacrifice and solidarity. His family and friends will love Les always, inspired by his intelligence and wit, and charmed by the echo of his uncompromising empire of sound. Memorial gathering on November 23, 1:00 p.m. at Chamberlyn's, Winnipeg Square. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made (with special thanks) to Riverview Health Centre.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Nov 20, 2013

Condolences & Memories (19 entries)

  • I got to know Les visiting Highbrow Books on trips in from Edmonton. Besides chess, we had many literary interests in common, and I possess and greatly value several volumes of his poetry. I greatly enjoyed his company, and I never missed a chance to see him when I was in Winnipeg. I very much regret that I only learned about his death now, when I noticed that a memorial tournament in his honour was held in November. If it becomes an annual tournament, I will certainly do my best to attend. Les will be missed, I'm sure, by many people who do not know each other but were connected to him. - Posted by: Bradley Willis (friend) on: Dec 20, 2013

  • Les --and his conversation-- matched the name of his bookstore. I would often visit Highbrow and leave edified and entertained, whether I'd purchased a book or not. Puckish and powerfully intellectual at the same time is no easy feat, but Les came to it naturally. My condolences to Les's family, his many friends, and associates. - Posted by: Nicholas Burns () on: Nov 28, 2013

  • A few years back, before several moves by us both, Les' bookstore was in the same building as mine. We had much in common, and I was always cheered to see him; he visited my shop just a couple of months ago - for the last time, it seems. I was fond of Les, and will miss him. - Posted by: Aimee Peake () on: Nov 28, 2013

  • A few years back, before several moves by us both, Les' bookstore was in the same building as mine. We had much in common, and I was always cheered to see him; he visited my shop just a couple of months ago - for the last time, it seems. I was fond of Les, and will miss him. - Posted by: Aimee Peake () on: Nov 28, 2013

  • I just learned today of Les' passing, and am thinking about him today. I used to visit him at his bookstore on Notre Dame and then the other incarnations. He introduced me to poetry and for that I will be ever grateful. - Posted by: Vaclav Linek (friend) on: Nov 24, 2013

  • The last time I served “food” to Les, during a World Series, he blinked a lot more than he usually did, in a concentrated way, then confided to me, sort of pretending to be out of breath - "there’s no legal definition for Chili Con Carni". Since his death, I’ve been rereading his last book of poems, Miss Howarter’s Fifth Grade, a masterpiece about the muse of Peter Pan. - Posted by: Mark West (Friend) on: Nov 23, 2013

  • I am truly sad to hear about Les's passing. I always enjoyed his intellect, and the great discussions we would have. I would intend to chat for only a few minutes, but would leave hours later. It is sad to think I will never again have that opportunity again. - Posted by: James Beddome (Friend) on: Nov 22, 2013

  • Les had some great "one-liners" - our chats always made me smile. He will be remembered. - Posted by: Lana Belza (colleague) on: Nov 22, 2013

  • Les will be remembered by me for his generosity of spirit, his openness and welcoming attitude, and joie de vivre, living his dream of being an independent book store dealer and retailer, always ready to inspire the intellect about some obscure author which he had discovered and determined needed to be better known. I had the pleasure to work with Les at MB. government Housing back in the 1980's as housing analyst assistant, doing research on municipal building permits for renovations and demolitions. Les was an ardent researcher, social activist, and advocate for the marginalized. His memory will be cherished. - Posted by: Roger R. Fontaine (friend) on: Nov 22, 2013

  • Again, traveller, you have come a long way led by that star./But the kingdom of the wish is at the other end of the night./May you fare well, companero; let us journey together joyfully,/Living on catastrophe, eating the pure light. For Les: A line from Tom McGrath's poem Epitaph - Posted by: Joe McLellan (Friend) on: Nov 21, 2013

  • When I was young, my father used to visit Les at Highbrow Books and the two of them would play chess while I explored the store and its basement. I have fond memories of those days in that labyrinth of books. Les was always kind to me and I was always excited to go see him and watch him play against my father. When I was employed at the University of Winnipeg Library, I would often see him there when I worked the night shift, and it was always pleasant to talk to him as a scholar and as a friend. He will be missed. - Posted by: Maureen Babb (Friend (Jeff's daughter)) on: Nov 21, 2013

  • We'll miss you Les. Barry's reading aloud of your poetry made the three of us smile in those last days. Thanks for being a loyal friend. - Posted by: Barry & Sandra Atkinson (Friends) on: Nov 21, 2013

  • Les, you marched to the beat of your own drum. Well done. You won't be forgotten. See you again some day in that great bookstore in the sky. - Posted by: Burton Lysecki (colleague) on: Nov 21, 2013

  • We met Les in 1999. Always enjoyed the insights of his big brain. His contribution to our lives at a time of deep sorrow is unmeasurable. His bright light will be missed. - Posted by: antiques & FUNK (friend) on: Nov 21, 2013

  • We play many games, but when I wrote my first novel, I went to talk with Les asking how I can publish it. And he showed me the way that I followed. I will remember him always!! - Posted by: Gustavo Melamedoff (chessplayer -friend ) on: Nov 20, 2013

  • Damn! I ran into him on the street just a few months ago, and we chatted a while. I had no idea he was that sick. He was one of those stalwarts who, through his love of good literature (High Brow Books could just as easily been called Sane Books) preserved and promoted the best of our past, reflected in the old fashioned concept of printed words on pieces of paper, as a basis to build a better future. His modest, quiet, unassuming style, and joy in always engaging in intellectually stimulating conversation or reading good books (as so beautifully represented in the picture), was perhaps the best expression of his underlying passion for a just, peaceful, humane, sane world. They may not build statues of people like Les, but he is one of those rare personalities that deserves to be remembered far more than our "official" heroes. I know I and many others will miss him. My deepest condolences to his family. - Posted by: Harold Dyck (friend) on: Nov 20, 2013

  • My condolences to his family. - Posted by: Duncan lennox () on: Nov 20, 2013

  • I first met Les in the early 1980's when I used to go into his bookstore and play speed chess & purchase chess books from him and I was shocked to hear of his passing. My deepest and sincerest condolences go out to his family. May you Rest in Peace my friend Les. - Posted by: Michael Kulczycki (Friend) on: Nov 20, 2013

  • Thanks for being our family friend for so many years, Les. Rest in peace. - Posted by: Tracey Byrne (Family friend (Barry's daughter)) on: Nov 20, 2013

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