Kroum Pindoff died as he had lived — thinking of others.
The entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded the popular Music World records and who donated with his wife, Eva, more than $20 million to the Canadian Red Cross died in his sleep Jan. 16 at his Etobicoke condominium. He was 97.
He was cremated. There was no funeral service. Pindoff had indicated he wanted the money to help others, not to memorialize himself, a family friend said.
While Pindoff made his fortune selling records in Toronto, he was keen to share his wealth. The couple’s Red Cross donation aided victims of landmines, disaster relief and supported projects to help women, children and seniors affected by war in the former Yugoslavia.
They gave millions more to War Child Canada, to help young war victims.
“He was a man with a twinkle in his eyes about life,” said family friend, Trevor Townsend. “He had that twinkle for what mattered in life: his family, his wife whom he called his partner, best friend and soulmate.
“He was happiest when he was meaningfully helping other human beings. His true wealth wasn’t his money. It was his generosity, his kind outlook, his role in helping other people.”
Pindoff lived through the atrocities of the Second World War. When he and his wife immigrated in Canada in 1955 from Germany, both worked at a Toronto meat packing plant; one on the day shift, the other working nights.
He saved $10,000, bought a vehicle and began what would become his future financially successful record business selling records on consignment out of his station wagon to pharmacies and convenience stores across Ontario, Townsend said.
Pindoff Record Sales led to Music World, the company he founded in 1970.
Music World would grow to more than 100 stores at the height of its success, with its offices and warehouse on Norseman Street in Etobicoke. Pindoff sold the business around 2007. Soon after, it had filed for bankruptcy and remaining locations were closed, an outcome of online music sales.
Pindoff kept Music World open longer than some may have to protect the jobs of his employees, Townsend said.
“He kept the company running to keep people employed. Some had been with him for 25 or 30 years,” he said. “He had excellent business judgment. Good old-fashioned common sense. He was fair, but tough. He expected much of himself and of those who worked for him. His employees loved him dearly. He was kindhearted, both in business and in (philanthropy).”
Pindoff is being remembered for that same generosity of spirit by the Canadian Red Cross.
The Canadian Red Cross awarded the Pindoffs numerous citations for their charitable contributions, including the Order of the Red Cross, Companion in 2000.
“This week, we have lost a great humanitarian, supporter and friend,” Conrad Sauve, secretary general and CEO of the Canadian Red Cross said in a Jan. 17 statement.
“I speak for all of my colleagues at the Canadian Red Cross and in many of our sister societies around the world in expressing our sadness, as well as our gratitude for Mr. Pindoff’s tireless support, which touched the lives of countless people in need over the past two decades.”
The couple also gave millions of dollars to those suffering from droughts in Africa, and to projects throughout the Americas and Asia, the Canadian Red Cross said.
After the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in South Asia, the Pindoffs gave $5 million toward Canadian Red Cross relief and recovery efforts — the largest ever personal contribution to a Canadian Red Cross disaster appeal, the agency said in a statement.
In 2008, the Pindoffs contributed $5 million toward the creation of the Millennium Fund. The fund encourages Canadians to join their efforts by contributing donations the Pindoffs then match. The fund continues to improve the health and lives of children, mothers and seniors in Africa, Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti and in central Europe, the Canadian Red Cross said in a statement.
Pindoff leaves his wife and daughter, Sophia.