Obituary Herb Stovel

Herb Stovel, ICOMOS Secretary General (1990-1993)

herb stovel

Dear members of the ICOMOS family,

It was with immense sadness when, just returning from the Executive Committee meeting in Paris, I received Dinu Bumbaru’s call informing me of the death of Herb Stovel, a very dear friend and trusted advisor who was always there when I needed him.

It is an immense personal loss, but beyond that and more importantly, it is a greater loss for Canada, for ICOMOS, and for the entire heritage community of the world, where he always played a protagonist role in imagining and ensuring the best possible conservation amid all cultural contexts.

We can find some level of consolation in the legacy that he lovingly, intelligently and generously built during his entire adult life, especially among the hundreds of the younger generations whom he mentored and carefully ushered into the field of conservation.

Herb was a giant among giants, a trait that he ably disguised through the warmth of his humanity and his ever willingness to listen to all who approached him.

We will sorely miss him, but he will never be forgotten by those whom he touched and who will benefit from his work far into the future.

To Herb's family, my most sincere heartfelt condolences, along with assurances that we all join them in mourning for the loss of such an unusual and universally loved man.

Gustavo F Araoz
President of ICOMOS


Conservationist and educator (1948-2012)

On 14th March in Ottawa, Canada, Herb Stovel passed away. This news brought a moment of deep sadness, silence and remembrance throughout the extended family of ICOMOS and the world of conservation. Our first thoughts are for his family to whom we offer our condolences and expression of a deep sense of loss and gratitude for all the good work Herb has done and the many challenges he gave us all to help make the world a better place to be.
A humanist curious of the world’s wealth of ideas and cultures, Herb was trained as an architect, graduating from McGill University in Montreal in the 1970s, at a time of strong struggles to save entire living neighbourhoods as well as individual heritage structures and monuments. From that period and throughout his professional or academic journey with the Government of Ontario, the Heritage Canada Foundation, Parks Canada, Université de Montréal, ICCROM, Carleton University and his relentless and continuous involvement in ICOMOS, Herb’s work remains distinctively engaged to connecting scientific, professional and social or community dimensions in defining and achieving the conservation of cultural heritage, and to the education and empowerment of those who can make these ideas a reality.
In ICOMOS, Herb Stovel embodied the authentic ideals and values of our non-governmental and diverse organisation as an active and committed member as well as one of its most engaged and inspiring institutional and intellectual leaders. As Secretary General in 1990-1993, he provided ICOMOS with leadership to progress as he set up the current process for ICOMOS to accomplish its advisory role in the implementation of UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention. He also engaged the organisation in fundamental reflections on authenticity, leading to the Nara Document of which he was one of the main authors, and demonstrated such energy as President of ICOMOS Canada and as an active contributor to many of our International Committees.
Such accomplishment earned him many awards including ICOMOS Canada’s Jacques Dalibard Award presented at the 16th General Assembly in Québec in 2008, and the prestigious ICCROM Award in 2011. In addition to these honours, one of Herb’s most valued acknowledgments rests in the work and action of the many people he brought to the field of conservation through his work as an educator or as guiding mentor or friend.

The warm voice and generous personality of our dear colleague and friend Herb Stovel will be missed. Yet his enduring spirit of endeavour for conservation, which he saw as a very special discipline as well as a cause essential to the modern world, and the immense legacy of his works and thoughts, will remain a guiding force for us and for ICOMOS which he loved dearly and whose future he saw with optimism.

Thank you Herb!
Dinu Bumbaru, C.M.
President, ICOMOS Canada
Member of the Executive Committee and former Secretary General of ICOMOS

Messages from Partner organisations


Dear Friends and Colleagues
The UNESCO family is mourning the death of our friend Herb Stovel.
Although we knew that he was seriously ill, the news of his passing away has saddened all those who have known him along the years, at ICCROM, at ICOMOS and as a Professor.
His intellectual contribution to the understanding and the practice of heritage management is reflected in the essays and the manuals he published, as well as in the many documents and studies he helped producing, among which the Nara Document on Authenticity stands out.
Through a relentless effort of inquiry, reflection and training, he has contributed to the advancement of the World Heritage Convention in ways that few other professionals have been able to do.
He was a wise and open person, always available to advise and help.
We join all those who loved him in remembering this outstanding figure of heritage professional and this dear friend.
We will miss you, Herb.

Ti sia lieve la terra.

Francesco Bandarin
UNESCO Assistant Director General for Culture

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