December 17, 1942 - January 1, 2019
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PATRICIA IDA GAGNON
Patricia Gagnon passed away peacefully on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 in Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba, surrounded by love, following a brief illness.
She was predeceased by her parents Arthur and Ernestine Gagnon; sister Jacqueline Moore; and brother-in-law Dennis Hillman.
She leaves to mourn her passing siblings Gisele and Brian Evans, Arthur Gagnon, Denise Gagnon and Angéle Gagnon; as well as nephews Marc Evans and Michael Evans and their families. Especially touched by our loss are her teaching colleagues and cherished friends Carolyn Berry, Angelina Assalone, Suzanne Lemay and Mary “Mac” MacMillan.
Our Pat first greeted the world on Dec. 17, 1942, in Detroit, Michigan under circumstances that can only be described as Capraesque. Five years later, Maman, Papa and little Pat returned to Canada and settled in North Branch, Ontario. By 1956, our growing family had moved to Kenora, Ontario where Pat finished high school and began her working life, first at Donor Law Offices, then at Northern Telephone. By the early 1970s, she took flight to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where she obtained a teaching certificate and a B.A., and began her long career as a French teacher, during which she obtained a Master’s degree and certification in English as a Second Language. In 1977 she took another plunge and moved to the Toronto area, eventually to call Etobicoke home for 35 years.
Following retirement from teaching in 1998, Pat began a new path in the realm of helping others. She volunteered (seems an inadequate term--) with her local church, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the homeless shelter project Out of the Cold (where she handled laundry and, crucially, the early morning “Bacon Shift”, our family pedigree making her uniquely qualified in this respect.) She became a Eucharistic minister and visited those confined to home. She was busy. But in her down time, Pat followed her faith, and loved her daily walks, old movies, reading, obsessive note-taking, good food, and a fine beer. She also stalked unfamiliar and familiar babies; what joy she took in tiny, new life! Our girl was fortunate to be an uncomplicated sort who took great pleasure in her many blessings.
If ever there was someone who lived near Toronto but not in it, yet took advantage of what big cities have to offer, it was Pat. She was an enthusiastic patron of the AGO, the ROM, the theatre, musicals, the Blue Jays, many restaurants, and lots and lots of live music. But most of all, her greatest passion was travel. By outward appearance, Pat seemed a conventional woman of modest origins, but those who loved her knew she had the heart of a pirate! In her days she danced to zydeco on Bourbon Street, felt Caribbean sand between her toes, climbed the pyramids at Giza, traversed the Great Wall of China, trekked the Australian outback, meandered the British Isles and Europe, sailed the great rivers of Russia and worshipped in the Holy Land. Her most recent travels brought her to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and finally, a sojourn to Newfoundland and Labrador. Her next adventure was to be an Alaskan cruise. What a zest for life, what an appetite for this beautiful planet!
In 2013, Pat decided it was again time to shake things up, and she launched her daring Stage 2 Retirement Initiative. She left her longtime Etobicoke nest and many good friends to return to family in Manitoba, in the process undertaking a first foray into home ownership, settling anew in a little jewel box on the shore of Lake Winnipeg, in Gimli. Here she planted new roots, made dear friends, and took her little community by storm. She quickly became involved in local life, volunteering with the Gimli District Hospital Auxiliary, Congregate Meals, and the Gimli Film Festival. She canvassed for the Heart and Stroke Fund, joined the local Lawn Bowling League, and was warmly welcomed into the local Red Hats chapter, and became one of the Robin’s Donuts gang. She was also known as a founding member of the Usual Suspects (you know who you are.) She was very happy in her new home and frequently declared, often on a beautiful summer day, “I’m in a good place.”
That optimism, in fact, was a guiding principle throughout her life. She was also independent, open-minded, curious, thoughtful, generous and forgiving. But most of all, the greatest of her attributes was her complete devotion to family.
Kindest soul, first daughter, memory keeper, peacemaker, joyful traveller, how you will be missed!
The family extends our gratitude to the staff of Gimli Hospital, Dr. Susan Robillard, and the kind people at Integrity Death Care. Cremation has taken place and a celebration of her life is planned at a later date. In lieu of flowers, family and friends are invited to make a contribution to a cause of their choice in Pat’s memory.
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