The Trent community was saddened to learn of the passing of Mrs. Sonja Bata, a philanthropist, business leader and long-time supporter of Trent University.
Born in Switzerland, Mrs. Bata studied architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. In 1946, she married Thomas J. Bata and for more than 50 years helped build the global Bata organization. In 1985 Mrs. Bata created the Bata Shoe Museum and in recent years was dedicated to the development of Batawa as a sustainable community. She was active in many volunteer organizations in the education, health, and environmental fields and was recognized with numerous awards including the Office of the Order of Canada.
In 2016, Mrs. Bata established the Thomas J. Bata Graduate Scholarship at Trent University in honour of her late husband. This endowed scholarship of $5,000 per year is available to a deserving graduate student from any country and discipline who demonstrates qualities such as leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship, community responsibility and global citizenship. At an event to celebrate this gift, Mrs. Bata was recognized as an honorary alumna of Trent in recognition of her service to the University.
The Bata family has a long and distinguished history with Trent University. Mrs. Bata’s husband, Thomas J. Bata was one of Trent University’s original honorary sponsors and a member of Trent’s Board of Governors between 1963 and 1973. He led the successful fundraising campaign to help build the first four buildings on the Symons Campus, and gave generously of his time and resources to the university, including a significant gift to help build the library, which opened in October 1969 bearing the Bata name.
Mrs. Bata is survived by her children Thomas G. Bata, Christine Schmidt (who serves as a member of the Trent University Advancement Committee), Monica Pignal and Rosemarie Bata, her nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Trent University extends heartfelt sympathies to Mrs. Bata’s family and friends, and to all who knew her.