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Date of Passing: Apr 19, 2020

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PierLuigi "Louie" Tolaini passed away on Sunday, April 19, 2020, peacefully in his home, with his wife Shelly and daughter Lia by his side, after a long battle with cancer.
He leaves to mourn his loving wife Shelly Tolaini, his daughters, Lia Tolaini Banville (husband Michael) and Tina Jones (husband Mike), and son Paul Tolaini (wife Rebecca). Louie will be sadly missed by his stepchildren, Hayley Gentry (husband Clayton and children, Sheldon, Ava and Grace) and Erika Mitchell; his adoring grandchildren, Mariska Tolaini, Julia Jones, Adam Jones, Matthew Banville, Alex Banville, Alicia Banville (husband Kyle Sumner), and three great-grandchildren, Karter, Khloe and Louie who will miss him tremendously. He also leaves two sisters, Carla Torcivia (husband Santo) and Lia Tolaini (husband PierLuigi Pierucci), niece Samia Torcivia and nephew Anthony Torcivia (wife Beata, their children, Nate and Eli). He is also survived by his first wife Lucille Tolaini. Predeceased by his mother and father, Ilda and Eliseo Tolaini, his cousin Laura Ciari, and brother-in-law PierLuigi Pierucci, all in his home town in Italy.
Louie immigrated to Canada in 1956 at 19 years old from Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Lucca, in Tuscany Italy. His family were very poor farmers and opportunities were nonexistent which motivated Louie to leave to find a better life. After landing in Toronto, he moved west to Virden, Manitoba, where he had two aunts who had immigrated from Italy years earlier. He worked three jobs and ultimately purchased a truck to haul water and supplies to the oil fields. Learning English and working up to 20 hours a day, he lived what others would have described as a hard life, but it was a life where Louie seized every opportunity to establish himself in his adopted country. In 1963, after saving $25,000, he started Virden Freightways. Louie continued to invest in trucking throughout his career. He pursued the vision that his company could build its success by not just offering superior customer service, but also by adapting and imagining new capabilities and services. That company grew into TransX, a premier provider of integrated transportation solutions to North America's business community. Under Louie's direction the company set the industry standard for service and customer satisfaction. He sold TransX to CN Rail in 2019, which at that time, was the largest privately owned transportation company in Canada. Louie loved going to work every day and was passionate about everything he did, especially spending time with his family and friends.
In 1998, at age 62, he started Tolaini winery in his homeland of Tuscany and today his wines have gained international acclaim; last year Tolaini placed #26 in Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines of 2019, an accomplishment many can only dream of. Tolaini winery has become yet another testament to Louie's vision and determination. In 2004 when he realized there was no ideal road to the North American market for his wines, he took this as an opportunity and started an import company with his daughter Lia. This was something Louie did all of his life; sought opportunity and focused on the desired outcome. Today Banville Wine Merchants is one of the most respected importers of Italian wines in the USA. Louie was an integral part of the growth and success of Banville and today the management team shares his daily mantra; "Look for your opportunities. Thinking of the obstacles will only slow you down and if you can't fix the obstacle go over and through it. This is how you win. Do better today than you did yesterday."
Louie enjoyed many awards and recognitions in his business career. In 2006 he was awarded the esteemed title Commendatore della Repubblica Italiana an honour bestowed by the Italian Government to select citizens who have honoured Italy. In 2007, TransX was nominated "One of Canada's Top 50 Best Managed Companies" and also, Ernst & Young awarded him as "Entrepreneur of the Year" for Western Canada. In 2016, he was awarded the Entrepreneur of the year by the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association and in 2017 the Manitoba Trucking Associations Red Coleman Service to Industry Award. In 2017 he was inducted into the Manitoba Business Hall of Fame by Junior Achievement Winnipeg.
As impressive as his entrepreneurial achievements are, Louie's legacy stretches further and wider than these. Louie was a mentor and a teacher, a true Patriarch. He has taught us the value of being fair as well as being tough; he has helped us understand what generosity is. He always expected everyone to do their best, in everything, no exceptions. It is fair to say Louie believed that people should seek respect and not attention. He was an unapologetic Italian who loved his homeland, but Canada was his country, he thanked Canada at every opportunity for being so kind to him.
Given the current situation with COVID-19, a funeral service will be scheduled at a later date at Holy Rosary when we can all unite safely.
In lieu of flowers, Louie's wish would be to support the PanAm Clinic Foundation, a charity he always held close to his heart.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Apr 21, 2020, Apr 25, 2020

Condolences & Memories (16 entries)

  • Some of my best memories were working for Louis back in 89-07. Right out of high school. He was a great guy. I still visit often to say hello to all the other long term employees. He never said good job but often gave me a hand on my shoulder and a look. A look that said it all. Much respect to Louis!! Condolences to the family. - Posted by: Curtis Barley (Ex employee ) on: May 07, 2020

  • Our friends Shelly Tolaini, Michael Banville and your families. A sad day to lose this man that was blessed with a mind of genuine quality, a spirited soul and relentless work ethics. He had created a wonderful life that was filled with beautiful family and travels to facinating far away places. His distinctive character bestowed him a place in many people's hearts. My brother Jeff and I enjoyed attending to his flight plans upon his arrival at the Business Class Check- In counter, Winnipeg Airport. He will be missed. Our condolences from Jill Palmer, Jeff McWhinney and the McWhinney family. - Posted by: Jill Palmer nee McWhinney (friend of Shelly, and of Michael Banville) on: Apr 25, 2020

  • My deepest condolences to the entire Tolaini family, both personal and professional, Louie's charisma, passion and drive are traits I will forever remember about him. I will raise a glass tonight in his memory. A Louie Tolaini, che riposi in pace. - Posted by: Barbara Marchetti (business associate) on: Apr 24, 2020

  • I never met Louie, but I feel like I knew him from hearing the many praises for Louie from my brother-in-law who was employed by Louie at TransX. Wow! What an amazing man coming to Canada at the young age of 19 and building an empire in a short span of time. In building an empire you...have a vision, stick to your beliefs, are a self-starter, are disciplined, thrive on competition, are confident and open minded. This and so much more sounds like Louie. Sincere condolences to all. Marlene Mutch - Posted by: Marlene Mutch (sister-in-law to one of Louie's employees (TransX)) on: Apr 22, 2020

  • Louie lived across the street during my teens and I always remember how cheerful and friendly he was. Years later, I was planning a trip to Italy and was told that Louie had started a winery in Tuscany. I sent an email to TransX, asking it be directed to Louie. Explaining who I was, I expressed an interest in visiting him at the winery when in that area. I received an email from him about 30 minutes later saying that he would indeed be in Tuscany when we were there and gave me his contact info. It turned out to be the highlight of my 3 week trip, with a tour of the facility, a beautiful meal and so many stories of Virden. He was the perfect host and I will always laugh remembering him showing us his red Ferrari in the garage with Alberta license plates! My condolences to the family. - Posted by: Cheryl Chisholm (Neighbour from Virden) on: Apr 22, 2020

  • Louie was a great across the street neighbour in Virden. He was always happy, always busy, very generous and full of fun. Watching his lifetime achievements was heart warming and exciting and we couldn't have been more proud to call him a friend. A life well lived. Well done, Louie. - Posted by: Fay Chisholm (Neighbouring from Virden) on: Apr 22, 2020

  • Rest In Peace Louie Tolaini. I can remember being 12 or 13 years old driving a tractor pulling a sheep’s foot packer for the summer on the property where the Winnipeg Transx Terminal is today and Louie coming for a site visit driving his red Baritz Cadillac at the time. Keep up the good work boy he would say. A few years later after the shop was built I was there washing out trailers and decking the cattle trailers with tarps and straw to go load cattle for the East. Good memories and fun times back then. My Dad was instrumental in referencing a few key employees to Louie at the time when he set up the terminal in Winnipeg. I have had the opportunity through my business in the last 20+ years to haul freight for Transx. Condolences to the Tolaini / Banville / Jones families at this difficult time. Sincerely The Roche Family - Posted by: Bruce Roche (Business Neighbor) on: Apr 22, 2020

  • As a young apprentice electrician I worked on his new buildings in the 70s. This carried forward when I had my own company late 80s. and into 2019 in Tranx maintenance and on site electrical projects. Great company to work for. Louie was always friendly .Our condolenses to his wife and families . - Posted by: Peter Hirschfeld Exco Electric (Electrical contractor) on: Apr 22, 2020

  • Lou, Thank you for the life lessons and for the memories. You have certainly left a legacy. You will not be forgotten. - Posted by: Linda Reavie (Friend) on: Apr 22, 2020

  • I first met Louie as a child, my dad worked for him then. As a young adult he gave me my opportunity to drive for Transx, he pulled many strings to get me on the road at 18. I have and always will be grateful to him. Throughout all his success from the time as a child to working for him as an adult he never changed, he always had a smile and a handshake for me. He told me when I bought my first truck - now you bought a job make it a business. I loved listening to his stories from not having a door on the truck to how he built Transx. I was mesmerized by his story telling but most of all I loved his outlook on employees and family. To Mike, Tina, Lia, Michael and families, my heartfelt condolences to you. May he rest in peace. - Posted by: Mike Brine (Former Employee ) on: Apr 21, 2020

  • My leader for 20 years. He provided many families with employment stability, flexibility, compassion. Truly an honour to have worked for Louie’s Transx. Surely an earned and welcome place in Heaven. My condolences to Mr. Tolaini’s family. - Posted by: K. Olszewski (Retired employee) on: Apr 21, 2020

  • I worked for Louie 1984-1996 it was my very first job out of high school, Louie gave me all the opportunity's to grow within the company. He moved me out to Toronto to help open his Toronto office I was only 21 at the time. I have to say if it wasn't for Louie giving me all the opportunity's he did I would not be where I am today. Thank You Louie may you rest in peace. - Posted by: Chris Hill (ex employee) on: Apr 21, 2020

  • Back then when I worked at Transx, I working in invoicing and loved my time there. Mr Tolaini was a force to be reckoned with. He had an eye for production and caring for his employees. My prayers go out to the many family he had and will sadly miss him. Wendy Hart (Campbell ) - Posted by: Wendy Hart (Ex employee ) on: Apr 21, 2020

  • I first met Louis in 1965 when he had three or four trucks. He was a first class customer and friend for over 50 years. Always treated me warmly. You will be missed Louis, as will your sense of humor and friendship. Bob Faraci - Posted by: Bob Faraci (Friend) on: Apr 21, 2020

  • My parents always spoke fondly recalling their time spent with the Tolanis. Rest in Peace Louie. Condolences from the Stevensons. - Posted by: David Stevenson (Friends) on: Apr 21, 2020

  • Tina,Mike,Lia,Mike,Paul and Families, My Deepest sympathies in the loss of your father. Louie was definitely a one of a kind person.(the best kind) My thoughts and prayers are with you at this sad time. Stay strong, Louie wouldn't have it any other way! - Posted by: Cathie Rempel (Ex employee and friend) on: Apr 21, 2020

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