Vera Kircheis with her late husband Albert Kircheis
At 87, Vera Kircheis’ energy and vibrant laugh is infectious. The more time you spend with her, the more apparent her love for art, history and travel becomes. Vera’s appreciation for culture and unique objects started early; “My father was a collector but many things were lost during the war and before that in a major earthquake,” she recalls.
Vera and her husband Albert came to Canada from Germany in 1951 to escape the turmoil in Europe. Eager to succeed in her new country, Vera quickly found work as a secretary in a paint factory. On her way home from landing the job, she bought a basket of peaches to celebrate. “They only cost me 52 cents!” she says, laughing. Bert was later hired by the same factory, which launched his successful career and eventually resulted in the couple opening their own export business.
As their business grew, so did their family and their relationship with the ROM. Lifelong students and appreciators of art and culture, Vera and Albert became life members of the ROM in 1971—what Vera calls the “steal of the century.” A member of the Currelly Society since 1994, she is part of a group of individuals who have promised future gifts to the Museum. “Soon after we came to Toronto, we ran into a distant relative who told us we had come to the best country in the world,” says Vera. “We have been very blessed here and we wanted to give back.”
Vera and her husband travelled extensively in Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean to support their business. In 2006, they established the Kircheis Family Endowment Fund. This transformational gift supports the ROM’s research and acquisitions in Latin America, particularly in Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Cuba, and Panama. It’s a way of expressing the family’s strong attachment and appreciation for the area where much of their business was based.