Respected Rotarian, music supporter
dies at 85
By Cliff Wells
Western Star Staff Writer
Tuesday February 7, 2006
Pasadena - Karl Diemer, a long-time town resident and businessman,
Born in Ober-Kaufungen, Germany in 1920, Mr. Diemer's career as
an actor was cut short by the Second World War. He was captured
at the battle of El Alamein, while serving under Field Marshal Irwin
Rommel in the Afrika Corps, then brought to Canada as a prisoner
of war and returned to this country in 1954 as an immigrant where
he became a school photographer.
He settled permanently in the province in 1960 and opened Nova
Photo with his wife Roberte two years later.
Bernd Staeben, former Corner Brook businessman and fellow Rotarian,
said Mr. Diemer was a conscientious member of the service organization.
"There was no question he was committed to the concept and
principles of Rotary," he said. "He, certainly, gave 100
"He attended all the meetings and participated in everything."
He said Rotary was a natural fit with Mr. Diemer.
"He was quite heavily involved in music," said Staeben.
"Music meant a lot to him. Rotary has the music festival and
so on, so he did his part as far as being a good Rotarian is concerned."
Born in Germany himself, Staeben said he had a special bond to
Mr. Diemer. He said they often talked about Germany if one of them
took a trip to the country.
He said being a Rotarian with 30 years of experience, seeing Mr.
Diemer take up Rotary at a late stage and diving into it fully was
inspiring, but that's not where they first met.
"I remember Karl way back when," said Staeben. "He
started Nova Photo in the Millbrook Mall when the mall first opened
in the 1960s. I was down there at McMurdo's Pharmacy in those days.
I knew him then and he had quite a successful photo business."
He said Mr. Diemer spoke to Rotary about some of the experiences
of his life.
"Karl told some wonderful stories about how he was captured,"
said Staeben. "He had one program (at Rotary) about when he
was in Africa and told some quite unique stories. That was quite
enthralling. I think everybody listened about how war isn't all
peaches and cream. It's a pretty dirty business."
Gary Graham, a city musician and music teacher, was well acquainted
with Mr. Diemer, especially from the concerts held at Villa Fairwind
- the Diemer home.
"In these concerts, they brought a lot of people in, but they
always started with a mature student," said Graham. "That
was a wonderful thing because that not only gave them an opportunity
to perform, but also exposed them to the performance of the people
they brought in to do the main concert.
"Mr. Diemer always enjoyed giving a pre-concert chat about
He said Mr. Diemer's generosity extended further than opening his
home for classical concerts.
"Once we started having concerts there, they invested in a
much better piano," said Graham. "When we started, they
had a small, upright piano. On the advice of people and trying to
bring in more and more artists, they purchased a nice grand piano,
with the acoustics of the room it made an ideal spot for these concerts.
Dr. Brian Harley, a Rotarian and doctor in the region, said Mr.
Diemer was also known as being a very private person.
"He was approachable, he was talkative, he was sociable, but
I can't say I knew a lot about him," said Dr. Harley. "He
had a lovely wife - a very kind person - she looked after him a
lot, brought him to Rotary meetings and brought him back, and she
looked after him."
He said Mr. Diemer was a contributor to the community and a good
volunteer, along with being a model Rotarian.
"His manners, his speech and everything was European,"
said Dr. Harley. "His liking were European - not necessarily
"In the room where all those concerts took place, all the
painting were European - some of them medieval. You would never
see it in any other person's house in Canada.
"His instincts were European, although he'd been here for
A memorial service for Mr. Diemer is set for today at the First
United Church on Park Street in Corner Brook at 10 a.m.