Maurice Lionel Karrouze – Mo – passed away, at peace, as the sun set on Friday, September 4, 2020 after a long and valiant battle with cancer. He was at home, surrounded with the love, laughter and warmth of his beloved family.
Mo was born on August 30, 1950 in Brighton, East Sussex, England. He was the son of a Lebanese man who had served as an officer in Charles de Gaulle’s army and fought for the Resistance, and an English gypsy woman whose family of performers was known as the Travelling Moons. Mo attended St. Luke’s School, where he was a member of the boxing team, went on to attend school in Woodingdean, then to the Royal Navy training ship Arethusa. Called to pursue life as an artist and musician, he moved to London to attend the London College of Fashion. Following his apprenticeship as a hairstylist, he secured a coveted position with Vidal Sassoon at his Bond Street salon. Mo’s passion for the arts was expressed in his songwriting, composing and arranging. He formed and led a number of bands, notably “Going Straight” in the U.K., the “League of Nations” in South Africa, and “Global Village Trucking Company” here in Brandon. Mo formed enduring friendships with his bandmates and toured widely in Europe, the U.S., Canada and South Africa; his songs will keep his voice alive forever.
Always possessing a profound social conscience, Mo’s politically charged lyrics and his work with the African National Congress during the Apartheid era in South Africa resulted in his arrest and ultimate exile from that country. Arriving in North America, Mo worked tirelessly to reunite his non-white band mates, finally succeeding in Toronto. One of his proudest moments was performing for and having breakfast with Nelson Mandela when he travelled to Toronto shortly after his release from prison in South Africa. Mo has continued to live a life lived for others, for justice and equality and equity for all. He has cared passionately for those whose voices were unheard or silenced. He has gently assisted those most in need of care, so quietly that in giving with “his right hand, his left hand did not know.”
Since settling in Brandon, Mo has been an active community member, serving on the Brandon Catholic School Board, St. Augustine’s Parish Council, the Stewardship Committee, the board of Helping Hands, the Westman Multicultural Festival Committee, and the Knights of Columbus. He has also taken joy in serving in music ministry at St. Augustine Church.
In addition to establishing and growing a successful family business, Mo has been an involved participant in Brandon’s music scene. The last decade has seen him form a popular tribute band, “The Beetles.” He has taken such delight in those sweet harmonies and in filling the dance floor with people enjoying themselves.
Passionate about his art, his music, politics and social justice, Mo’s heartbeat has been for his family. He loved his family with unparalleled depth. He inspired us with his faith, positivity, his great grace and dignity as he fought so fiercely to stay with us. Mo is survived by his wife and best friend of 33 years, Heather, his daughters Meaghan (Trevor), Jenna (Jaxon), Amie and Emily, as well as his much adored grandsons: Julian, Jaxon, Jonah and Joseph. Mo’s family in the U.K and Middle East: sons Mark and Andrew, brothers Danny, Zak and Adam, sisters Kim and Sharon, grandchildren Anna, Rosie, Molly and Bailey, as well as nieces, nephews and cousins also mourn his passing.
A Funeral Mass was attended by Mo’s immediate family on Monday, September 14, 2020 at St. Augustine Church. Thank you to Father John and to Father Leo for their words of comfort and to Melissa Anaetoh for the beautiful music. Sincere thanks to the many medical professionals who have helped Mo to enjoy life despite his illness; thanks to Cancer Care Manitoba and to the Western Manitoba Cancer Centre. Much gratitude to Memories Chapel for their gentle and compassionate care of us in our grief. To the many, many friends and family members who have walked this journey with us, your love, support and prayers have lifted us and given us strength – it has meant the world to us.
Donations in memory of Mo may be made to Helping Hands, 111-7th Street, Brandon, Manitoba, R7A 3S5. A public celebration of Mo’s life will be held to raise funds for Cancer Care Manitoba when we may safely gather in large numbers.
“The song has ended, but the melody remains.”