Morton Brownstein, former president of Montreal-based Browns Shoes, the Canadian retail chain founded by his father, died on May 23. He was 85.
Brownstein oversaw the retail chain as it expanded to 40 doors across Canada and is credited with bringing European designers into North America.
“In 1958, he was the first to go to Europe and sign an order with Salvatore Ferragamo,” Michael Brownstein, current president of the firm, said of his father. “He was always looking for a new idea. He was an innovator and an amazing person in all kinds of ways.”
Morton Brownstein also was known as a philanthropist and received numerous awards in recognition of his charitable efforts. In 2004, he was appointed to the Order of Canada for his success in business, as well as for his charitable work with the Jewish General Hospital and the Montreal Association for the Blind.
“The Order of Canada is not given lightly, [and] Morty certainly received it with much merit,” said designer and longtime friend Stuart Weitzman. “He was a giant in the world of retail and used his importance as a support to his suppliers, never as a confrontation. We would all be fortunate to know another person with his charm, integrity and love of family.”
Michael Brownstein also recalled his father’s genuine spirit. “He related to every person [he met],” he said. “He knew how to talk to people and … every time he finished, that person felt great. He was a great storyteller. He had great jokes. It was a tremendous loss to our company, our family and to the city of Montreal and Canada.”