Cover photo for Adrian d'Angelo's Obituary
Adrian d'Angelo Profile Photo

Adrian d'Angelo

December 8, 1939 — September 23, 2023

Toronto

If you get to it, and you cannot do it, there you jolly-well are, aren’t you?”

(Lord Buckley…whose performing art Adrian imported for us after his year-long late 50’s US hitchhike.)

It is with shock and sorrow that we absorb Adrian’s passing;

with the gathering resonance of memory that we summon

his most unique contribution to our pleasure and our insight:

his artistry, his compassion and his risk taking.

He referred to himself as an existentialist:

dedicated to freedom, responsibility and choice.

Here's his voice: "I do seem to have an ability

to give people permission to do whatever they want,

and to have no embarrassment or shame about it"

This comment exemplified his inner gift.

Adrian owned the two-way street.

His online essay entitled Photographic Memory began by recalling his unique connection with Toronto’s Black and Afro-Caribbean communities. In 1972 his window display, which included a portrait of a Black woman attracted the attention of Contrast Newspaper and he was invited to advertise. He did and followed up with other publications such as Spear Share and Pride.

As his portrait sittings grew rapidly, he then shut down the photofinishing part of his business and moved his studio to Bathurst and Dupont, later to Jane and Lawrence, and eventually settled down at Eglinton and Oakwood. During that time he had begun using the catch phrase ‘Almost Soul’ in his ads.

Contrast gave the lives of those too often disenfranchised a voice that helped to rise above the all too frequent realities of societal exclusion. To a portrait photographer contrast is the rich language of skin-tone. Adrian understood both.

Adrian’s step-son Paris wrote about his stepfather: Adrian was a magician in the best sense of the word. He was a conjurer of light. With an invisible sleight of hand that always bore his unmistakable imprint, he blended art and the erotic in order to produce a truly remarkable portfolio of photography over his whole life and career. Most importantly, he was an ardent lover who was an object of affection, fascination, and passion for those who knew him best.

*************

Adrian died at home with his beloved wife Linda close by.on September 23rd. Predeceased by his parents, his uncles, and his sisters, Marta, Lorraine, and Carmela. Photographer, local merchant, writer, friend, and neighbour he lived in the moment and lived every moment fully. He will be fondly remembered and missed by his step-son Paris Cameron-Gardos (Matthew), his sisters-in-law and brothers-in law Dave (Brenda), Camrose (Cletus), Doug (Sharon), Tom (Eva), and Carma, his dear friends Patti and Billy, and his dear neighbour, Lumi.

As a photographer Adrian had a special gift that produced a truly freeing quality in him, some palpably felt permisiveness, and a persistent flight from “no.”

He will be fondly remembered by the hundreds of clients who enjoyed their photography sessions with him during a career that spanned more than four decades.

Adrian discovered his writer's voice in 2007 and went on to write a series of essays in his blog Adrian-the-Elder. The sometimes hilarious, often touching musings on life with squirrels and two-legs, his early life, later life, and travels illuminate moments that shaped his unique perspective, and breadth of life experience.

During their 24 years together Adrian and Linda never stopped marvelling at the serendipitous events that led to their initial meeting in the fall of 1999.They were profoundly grateful for their life together and shared the heartbreak of knowing that Adrian would not recover.

Home and Community Care Support Services-Toronto Central provided home palliative care for Adrian. Wilson Suen, Team Leader, and Dr. Rachael Wortzman led the committed and compassionate team of nurses, personal support workers, and other support people, who cared for Adrian and his loved ones with kindness and competence.

Cremation has occurred. To honour Adrian's wishes, no public gatherings will be held. For those who wish to make a charitable donation in Adrian’s memory, a donation to the Toronto Wildlife Centre (torontowildlifecentre.com) or to another cause of your choosing would be deeply appreciated.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Adrian d'Angelo, please visit our flower store.

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