Businessman brought in big name acts
Former manager of Delhi Belgian Club dies at 82
By BARBARA SIMPSON - DELHI NEWS-RECORD
Louis Christiaen was a charmer.
When the former owner of the Turkey Point Marina sought to expand the site, neighbours of the property couldn't stay unsupportive of his plans for long. As soon as they met Christiaen and his wife Raymonda, they had a change of heart.
"Even some of them had my wife and I down for dinner — the lawyer representing the businessman the people were initially against," recalled Clark Holden, of Brantford, his longtime lawyer and friend.
Christiaen, however, isn't only being remembered as a sharp businessman. He was also fair and had a wonderful sense of humour, say colleagues and community members. Christiaen died at the age of 82 last Wednesday.
Christiaen is also responsible for a significant part of the legacy of the Delhi Belgian Club. The former club manager persuaded big name acts, like Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis, to perform in Delhi.
"He was like a Frank Sinatra," recalled Marc Vandenbussche, a director of the Delhi Belgian Club.
Christiaen marketed Delhi as the perfect midway stop for touring bands. It was halfway between Buffalo and Detroit. His ability to recruit bands and draw in audiences painted a bright future for the club.
"He made it into the biggest Belgian Club in North America," Vandenbussche said.
Part of his success was in his ability to pick up-and-coming acts, said Karl Huyge, a former Belgian Club bartender.
"He had a real sense of what the popular trends were," Huyge said. "He was able to realize the trends of the time."
Christiaen was also known as a fair boss who loved a good laugh.
"My sense of Louis was you never worked for him, you worked with him," said Huyge, who was hired by Christiaen as a young man.
Starting out as tobacco farmers, Christiaen and his wife purchased the Turkey Point Marina in 1977.
"When he bought it, it was really nothing," Holden recalled.
By the time they sold it 28 years later, the property was among the largest marinas along the Great Lakes. During their ownership, they added trailer sites and channels for docking boats.
However, all of Christiaen's business successes never changed his character.
"As I said to his son yesterday, he was one of the most honest, decent men I knew," Holden said.
Christiaen leaves behind his wife Raymonda, and children Lorraine (Richard), Lawrence (Mary) and Larry (Tami). He will also be missed by six grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Visitation was held at the Murphy Funeral Home on Friday. A private family funeral service was slated.