It was love at first sight — almost!
Jim Whitehead first met his wife Pat almost 80 years ago when they were children. “Pat came to visit relatives in Orangeville, Ontario, where I lived at the time and we became friends.” Years passed, both married other people and, when they by chance encountered one another again in Ottawa in the late 1970’s as new again singles, Jim knew he had met “the one”. It was a second chance at a wonderful relationship lasting nearly 40 years. It was also the beginning of their happy association with the National Arts Centre.
As Jim says, “We both enjoyed music and the arts so the NAC was like a gift to us.” They subscribed to the opera and to the English Theatre series. Together, Jim and Pat enjoyed years of superb performances and, to their surprise, they even became performers at the National Arts Centre themselves.
“Pat and I loved to sing. With a British couple we knew, we created a group called — wait for it — the British North America Act. To our amazement, we were a hit!” They were a singing comedy team in the style of the British music hall tradition and performed from 1979 to 1984, including five runs at the NAC. “What fun we had,” says Jim, “and the NAC was just great to work with.” They even performed on the CBC to wide acclaim. Those were happy years.
At the time, Jim was working as a marriage and family counsellor and Pat worked with Bell Canada. Music, theatre, and performing at the National Arts Centre, proved to be wonderful diversions from their busy work and family lives and the Whiteheads were grateful. They became annual donors to the NAC Foundation. They also decided to remember the NAC with a charitable gift in their estate plans.
This decision was an easy one, and for them it was simply the right thing to do. “Both Pat and I wanted to give back, to say thank you for all that the NAC had done for us over the years.” Pat’s long illness — sadly, she died in 2018 — curtailed their involvement with the NAC for a time but their interest never waned. Jim has left a percentage of his estate to the Foundation for use where the need is greatest at the time.
“I want others to have the same opportunities and cultural experiences that we had and I am confident our future gift will help.”
Now fully retired, Jim still enjoys singing, reading, some travelling, and he has resumed his active association with the National Arts Centre. And the NAC is grateful!
Won’t you please join Jim and Pat Whitehead and remember the National Arts Centre Foundation with your own legacy gift? It may be for any amount and you may direct it to an area of the NAC’s work of your choice. Alternatively, you may do as Jim did and leave your gift undesignated. The choice is yours. If you have already remembered the Foundation with a future gift, could you let us know? We would like to thank you personally and work with you to ensure we use your gift exactly as you wish.
Thank you Jim for the tremendous support both you and your wife have given to the National Arts Centre over many years. Your gift will help to ensure we bring the very best in the arts to Canadian audiences for generations to come.