Former Georgia Straight wine columnist and ex-CBC Radio host Jurgen Gothe dies

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      Broadcaster, bon vivant, self-taught music expert, and wine connoisseur Jurgen Gothe passed away last night.

      The Berlin-born Gothe was 71 years old.

      According to his wife Kate Williams, Gothe died during happy hour in Haro Park Centre in Vancouver's West End, where he had been living since last year.

      He moved into the complex after his cancer progressed to a point where he couldn't remain at home.

      He's also survived by his daughter Colette. 

      Gothe was the Georgia Straight's wine writer from 1997 to 2014. He continued writing columns while battling cancer, only stopping when he had to move into a care home because of his health problems.

      His popular Uncorked column made wine accessible to hundreds of thousands of Vancouverites. In this role and as a wine writer for various other publications, Gothe contributed enormously to B.C.'s vibrant wine culture.

      Gothe was no wine snob and made a point of writing about products that average British Columbians could afford.

      Across Canada, Gothe is best known as the former host of the national DiscDrive show, which aired on CBC Radio 2 from 1985 to 2008. It featured an eclectic mix of classical, jazz, and other forms of music, mixed in with Gothe's trenchant observations and comments about his cat.

      Before that, he hosted a CBC program called Front Row and worked at CHQM in Vancouver.

      According to a 2008 profile in Vancouver magazine, Gothe's first media experience came selling magazine subscriptions door to door as a teenager on the Prairies before finding a job at a gas station in Carberry, Manitoba. He lived in the local hotel at the age of 15.

      “I’m completely autodidactic," Gothe told writer John Burns. "I dropped out of school because I was bored and thought I could teach myself anything I needed to know. So far, so good. To me, learning is self-motivated. That’s how I’ve learned everything.” 

      He was later employed in advertising and worked for a while for Mission Hill Family Estate's Anthony Von Mandl. For many years, Gothe shuttled back and forth between Vancouver and his home on the Gulf Islands.

      On September 27, he hosted a 70th-birthday celebration at the Haro Park Lodge, which was attended by dozens of friends.

      After Gothe stopped writing his column in the Straight, he posted a simple message on his Facebook page: "Today Jurgen stows away the typewriter. Thank you to the Georgia Straight for a great run. Cheers!"

      Indeed, it was a great run. He will be missed.

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      21 Comments

      Sherrie

      Apr 10, 2015 at 8:50am

      I loved Jurgen's Disc Drive, and missed him and his program so much when it went off the air. Nothing the CBC has replaced them with even comes close! My condolences to his family at this sad news. I pray he will be joyful in heaven.

      Sujinder Juneja

      Apr 10, 2015 at 9:10am

      This is a thoughtful piece, Charlie. Thank you for sharing. His impact on both the music and the wine industry across Canada cannot be underestimated and the outpouring from coast to coast will be significant as word spreads of his passing. I am pleased to have got to know both him and Kate very well in the last couple of years. But as sad as I am that he is no longer with us, I am relieved that he is no longer suffering. Cheers to Jurgen and my deepest sympathies to Kate and Colette.

      Paula Kelly

      Apr 10, 2015 at 9:46am

      He was a great guy, good friend and I will miss him dearly. Always colourful and severely honest, there will never be another Jurgen! I used to listen to his show on CBC years ago as I drove home and blasted it, LOUD! He never missed a beat, he was so very thoughtful. Very sad day to learn this.

      Jim Boylan

      Apr 10, 2015 at 10:29am

      A Sad Passing of a High School Friend! An accomplished Man who will be sorrowfully missed.

      Valerie Coles

      Apr 10, 2015 at 11:12am

      I worked with Jurgen for years when were both starting out as copywriters ("Continuity") at CHQM. In those days it was strictly an AM station breaking new ground in the Vancouver Talk and Top 40 radio jungle.

      Jurgen used to introduce himself by pronouncing the J in 'Jurgen' like 'jump' but because I had a good friend, also from Germany, who pronounced his name in the original German 'Yurgen' , I aked him when we were first introduced if he minded if I addressed him that way and, typically, he laughed and said, "You can call me anything you want." Thus he became known throughout the station as 'Y' Jurgen, which he remained throughout his brilliant, eclectic career.

      Jurgen's death came as a shock. I was unaware of his cancer and I'll feeling very nostalgic and sad. End of an era.

      Dan Spragins

      Apr 10, 2015 at 11:22am

      What a great loss to British Columbia and the entire country. Such a wonderful and engaging human being with intelligent advice, information and of course his always tasteful humour. I enjoyed his many years on CBC and reading his columns on wine and food in the Georgia Straight. He was self taught, but he was also a great teacher, full of useful wisdom.

      You'll be missed Jurgen, but I'm sure the wine in heaven is always served at the correct temperature!

      Danuta Gajewski

      Apr 10, 2015 at 1:33pm

      I have so many fond memories of Mr. Gothe's tall tales about his cat, and the companionship of his voice on the radio as I maneuvered the craziness of the 2-20 during afternoon traffic in Montreal (driving home from Concordia U to Ile Bizard) every day. Thank you for getting me home safely all those years ago. My cat, Milo, and I will raise a glass of reasonably-priced wine tonight, in your honour. You're right, GS...he will be missed, by many.

      Ullrich Schade

      Apr 10, 2015 at 2:33pm

      Yes, he will be missed by his many friends. Tears are running down my face while writing this. I worked with Jurgen in advertising, first for the famous (or was it infamous) Dunsky Advertising, which was the official NDP ad agency during the reign of Premier Dave Barrett in the early to mid '70s, where we worked on among other things, the first ICBC ad campaign. While at Dunsky, one lunchtime he introduced me to Danish open-faced sandwiches, followed by beer and aquavit chasers at the Scandia on East Hastings, after which we barely made it back to the office in one piece. Scenes from Mad Men come to mind. Then later we worked together on other advertising projects – he wrote the copy, I designed the ads. When he worked at CHQM, I used to tell him that one day he would have a national radio show on the CBC just like Bob Kerr – a prediction that would come true. He loved his wine and in the early '80s he and I, along with my wife Robyn used to visit the long gone now Greek restaurant on West 2nd on Fridays for happy hour. We had great conversations, great Greek food and great wine. He had a large collection of vinyl albums, and when he moved back from Vancouver Island, he had to rent an extra truck just to move his many thousands of records. I also remember him telling me how he named St. Jovian, one of Anthony von Mandl’s first wines – after his cat, Jovian. He was a good friend who slipped in and out of my life for over 40 years. He'll be truly missed by many.

      Ponti

      Apr 10, 2015 at 4:00pm

      Very sad to hear. RIP

      Bob Blakey

      Apr 10, 2015 at 5:13pm

      So sorry to hear of Jurgen Gothe's death. I enjoyed DiscDrive from the beginning, and missed the host's wry humour and musical knowledge when he went off the air. He kept me calm and entertained countless times during Calgary's afternoon rush hour. In the early 1980s, I recorded one of his Christmas Day DiscDrives, filled with music from The Nutcracker, and in our house we still play the cassette every second year or so while opening presents. My condolences to his wife and daughter, who must be devastated despite knowing for some time this news was coming.