At the age of ninety-four, Dr. Nelly Auersperg passed away on 15 January.

Nelly’s father Viktor.

Born on 13 December 1928 at Vienna, Baroness Nelly Gutmann was the only daughter of Baron Viktor Gutmann von Gelse und Belišće (1891-1946) and Luise Bloch-Bauer (1907-1998), who wed in 1927. Nelly was later joined by a younger brother, Baron Francis Gutmann (1934-2014). Their father Viktor was an industrialist. 

Nelly’s great-aunt Adele, circa 1920.

Nelly’s paternal grandparents were Baron Alfred Gutmann von Gelse und Belišće (1857-1919) and Ottilie Pollak von Rudin (1864-1921). Her maternal grandparents were Gustav Bloch (1862–1938) and Marie Therese Bauer (1874–1961). Nelly’s great-aunt was Adele Bloch-Bauer, who was painted by Gustav Klimt and whose story was told in the 2015 film The Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren, who portrayed Nelly’s cousin Maria Altmann.

On 30 May 1955 at Vancouver, Baroness Nelly von Gutmann married Prince Johannes “John” von Auersperg (1930-2017), a son of Prince Eduard von Auersperg (1893-1948) and Countess Sofie von Clam und Gallas (1900-1980). The couple were married for sixty-two years. John and Nelly had two children: Princess Maria Elisabeth (b.1956; married David Harris) and Prince Eduard “Edward” Viktor (b.1958; married Nancy Andrews). 

Here is the obituary of Dr. Nelly Auersperg from the Vancouver Sun:

December 13, 1928 (Vienna) – January 15, 2023

Last Sunday, after a lengthy illness, our much beloved Nelly Auersperg slipped peacefully from this life. She and her family were grateful for the opportunity to enjoy their final time together.

Nelly was predeceased by her father Viktor (Gutmann), her mother Luise (nee Bloch Bauer), her brother Francis, and her husband John. She leaves behind and will be remembered by her daughter Maria (David), son Edward (Nancy), and her six grandchildren Anthony, James, Elizabeth, John, Steven and Natalie, and many others whom she touched during her incredible life. She was hugely grateful for the opportunity to hold two great-grandchildren, Ada and Henrik, and happy in the knowledge of more to come.

Nelly enjoyed a privileged childhood, but also experienced the horrors of war, revolution and loss. After eventually making her way to Vancouver, she obtained her MD degree (U of Washington) and PhD (UBC). She spent six decades in cervical and ovarian cancer research; a pioneer in her field, publishing over 200 research papers, and mentoring over 60 students, post-doctoral fellows and lab technicians, all of whom she lovingly and proudly referred to as her children. She was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from SFU, UBC Lifetime Achievement Award, AMS of UBC Great Trekker Award, and had an OVCARE symposium and an award in Women’s Health Research named in her honour. She was a trustee of the BC Foundation for Non-animal Research.

In 2016, she travelled to Croatia, and successfully honoured her late father’s final request to have his unjust death sentence imposed in 1945 overturned.

Nelly continuously displayed her gratitude for the life she was able to live in Canada. She set up three charitable foundations, providing respite for families affected by autism, housing for people suffering from homelessness and mental illness in Vancouver, and cervical cancer care in Uganda. In her nineties, she still found energy to contribute to and help translate into English a Croatian economics textbook about her childhood hometown of Belisce, and also helped spearhead the campaign to acquire a Shakespeare first folio for the UBC Special Collections library.

She did not live for work alone, enjoying the outdoors, skiing, sailing, gardening and reading. She also found time for family and was always there when needed, caring for her children and introducing her grandchildren to culture and the arts, Disneyland and the opportunity to travel. She and they especially treasured visits to the town she lived in Croatia, where she showed each of them something of their roots and the place where so much happened during and after the war to shape her life and their heritage.

She passed away at age 94, remaining inquisitive, feisty and alive until her final hours. She even relished watching the Canucks finally win a game just hours before she left us.

We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Mercy Tenerio and Dr. Geoffrey Edwards for so many years of kindness, dedication and patience, to staff and friends at Tapestry, to Dr. Jason Park, and to the many staff at Vancouver General Hospital for their kind and tender care.

Funeral mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (2465 Crown Street, Vancouver) on Tuesday, January 24 at 12 p.m., with a reception to follow at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club from 3:30 p.m.

May Dr. Nelly Auersperg Rest In Peace.

The University of British Columbia – Dr. Nelly Auersperg Announcement

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