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"SWI" 2003 Obituary


SWICK  SWIFT  SWINDELL  SWINDEN  SWINTON  SWITZER 

SWICK o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-01-17 published
June Simpson RENAUD.
By Stephen and David SWICK Friday, January 17, 2003, Page A18
Painter, mother, naturalist, soul searcher. Born June 17, 1917, in London, Ontario. Died October 4, 2002, in Trenton, Ontario, of ailments including diabetes, aged 85.
When her children were teenagers, keen to see Elvis Presley's debut on the Ed Sullivan Show, June's humour got in on the act. Just before the King came on -- the power in their house cut off. The children screamed in horror! Laughter filtered up from the basement, the power came back on, and the screams turned to groans of "Oh, Mom."
June's jokes could have an edge, but her laughter was infectious and the fun in her eyes clear. "The only kind of people I don't like," she once said, "are boring people. Even mean people are interesting. But boring people are just boring."
She practical-joked until the end. She lived with curiosity, humour, and great gratitude, but without conventional faith. She stunned her small-town Anglican minister by casually announcing that she didn't believe in hell. She professed spiritual, rather than religious beliefs. She saw God in nature, in the flow and rhythm of all life.
She worshipped accordingly. Her garden was shockingly rich -- she called it her jungle. Owls roosted there. Clans of raccoons peered down from treetops. Rabbits munched her red tulips. The hedges grew to more than 30-feet tall. June could sit and look at the wind in the trees for an hour -- not think, just look.
Nature was welcome inside, too. The indoor plants got special treatment: having read that it might help their growth, June breathed on them every night. In her sun porch she raised Monarch butterflies, from August caterpillars through the chrysalis stage, to when she would open the door and they could fly to Mexico.
Her love of nature led her to attend art school in Montreal, and to a national reputation for painting dog portraits. From the 1940s through the 1960s, her art adorned magazine advertisements and calendars across Canada. All of her life she kept dogs, too the best behaved, funniest, happiest dogs you ever saw.
While still in school June married Alec RENAUD, thrilling two mothers. June and Alec's mothers were best Friends, secretly wishing for their children to fall in love and marry. They wanted this to happen so much they never expressed it to the kids. Naturally, romance bloomed. The couple was blessed with two children, Laurie and Susan. June's second great-grandchild was born this past summer.
She read broadly and saw it as a conversation between her and the author. Although a lover of storytelling, many of her favourite authors wrote nonfiction: Thoreau, Emerson, Guy Murchie, Joseph Campbell, Thich Nhat Hanh. The right book comes to you, she believed, at the right time.
June offered life lessons while rarely saying so. She showed the power of being where you are, doing what you are doing, and doing it with heart.
Our hearts are broken a little further open now; one more lesson from June. Life seems to be about having your heart opened further and further, and that hurts. But there's nothing for it but to remain curious about it all, even death.
June would have said, "Especially death." She saw death as a big adventure, the prize at the end of the party. "Finally," she said, "you get to solve the mystery." She was so curious to see what death was like, so determined to die awake.
On a fresh, bright day in autumn, June's wish was filled. The last time we talked she said, "I have lived a wonderful life, and now I'm having a beautiful death." She continued, "I don't want to be mourned -- more than a little. I want my death to be celebrated, like my life."
We are doing our best.
Stephen and David SWICK are June RENAUD's great-nephews.

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SWIFT o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-07-14 published
Doris MARSHALL
By Jamie SWIFT, Paul EPRILE, Monday, July 14, 2003 - Page A18
Jamie and Paul are Friends of Doris
Homemaker, teacher, writer, visionary. Born January 4, 1911, in Killarney, Manitoba Died January 15, in Toronto, of old age, aged 92.
When we first got to know Doris MARSHALL in the mid 1970s, we encountered everyone's grandmother. She served her famous biscuits and lemon tarts accompanied by tea in delicate porcelain cups. Perhaps it would be homemade oat-cakes and cheese with sherry. A minister's widow, she seemed to fit the little-old-lady stereotype right down to the tissue tucked under her well-ironed cuff.
But that wasn't all she kept up her sleeve. Doris had a passion for social justice. Anything showing old people in isolation or robbed of dignity made her shudder. Once the tea was poured, she would extract an item she had carefully clipped: it could be any news item hinting that old people are somehow a problem to be solved.
While preparing her 1987 book on aging, Doris maintained a unique filing system involving paper clips, hundreds of clippings, and handwritten notes inscribed on the clippings themselves, to save paper. Doris knew how to stretch what she had. She was the oldest of eight children from a Manitoba farm family. Because her mother preferred outdoor work, Doris began to cook for a family of 10 plus guests -- as a young teenager. Her work as a live-in housekeeper financed her studies at Winnipeg's United College, where she met George MARSHALL. Before marrying, she spent four years in Norway House, working at a residential school.
She realized that teaching sewing and music to aboriginal children left them ill-equipped for life in either white or native society. After a stint in The Pas as the "minister's wife," she settled in Winnipeg with her husband and three daughters: Brenda, Judith, and Mary. While doing community work, she helped organize Winnipeg's first Indian Friendship Centre.
Doris became a single mother with George's death in 1959. Her new parish job at Westminster United Church led to work with the neighbourhood old ones -- she abhorred the term "seniors." This be came her passion. She soon found herself at the United Church's Toronto head office, working in the field of aging.
Doris never saw herself as a gerontology specialist. One of the lessons she drew from her Norway House experience was the way in which native culture valued and cared for elders in the community. These lessons were reinforced in her travels to China, Ghana and Mozambique.
"We must discover new family and neighbourhood relationships," she would later write. "Helping one another and fighting together for just and fair treatment for all would be the rallying point for a different kind of extended family."
Doris found a new extended family in and around the Development Education Centre, where a community of younger people shared her vision. She proceeded to organize a group of elders. Then she wrote a book, Silver Threads: Critical Reflections on Growing Old.
She used her life as a prism through which the problems of aging are reflected. Her 1988 national promotion tour, under taken at age 78, took the book into a second edition. The tour included a visit to grand_son Jama's Grade 2 class as his "show-and-tell." He was the only one with a grandmother who was also an author.
Doris lived independently in her tidy Annex apartment, with its lace doilies and family keepsakes, until 1999. Her capacities diminished, her family knew that she did not want to enter long-term care. But she was, as usual, gracious in accepting what she could not change.
She once said that she agreed with physicist Ursula FRANKLIN's vision of the ideal society. It's like a potluck supper -- everyone brings something and everyone gets something. Doris brought the best she had. And she shared it all around.

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SWIFT o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-07-31 published
LAIDLAW, Vibeke
I have lost my Danish treasure of 58 years to an awful disease. Vips (for Very Important Persons) actually died at year-end and has lived in a virtual hell of discomfort and pain until this week when her life ended in the Palliative unit of Parkwood Hospital in London.
She was my loving wife, soul-mate, house manager and garden architect, advisor, companion, often a sensible crutch and most of all matriarch mother. And oh how clever, perceptive and insightful she was! Our children and theirs, adored her. Christian and Jane in Copenhagen and their Vibe and Johan; Lillemor also in Denmark and her Anders and Maja; Peter and Sharon (deceased) and Hanna and Ulla of Toronto. Her brother Carl Johan PROBST and Inger too. They live in Copenhagen. Her wonderful young sister, Bitten, died earlier. Vips' mother, Astrid, was a fiery Norwegian and her father, Ivan - a kind and gentle Dane. We met on VE-Day 1945. She leaves nieces, nephews and Friends on two continents, many in the broadcasting, newspaper and photographic fields.
Vibeke definitely did not like funerals. So there is not one.
I hope you will remember her from her more vibrant times. That memory is, I'm sure, what she would like of you now.
If you knew her, be it as Vibeke or Vips, I'm sure you too have lost a special person in your lives. A public thanks to the kind people of the Cancer Clinic and especially those most special Palliative Care nurses led by Dr. John SWIFT.
Ron, July 30.

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SWINDELL o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-07-26 published
SWINDELL, Gerald S.
Passed away peacefully at the Veterans' Wing of Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre in Toronto on July 17, 2003 at the age of 88. Gerry was predeceased by his first wife, Jean WARRINGTON, in 1947, and by his second wife of more than 40 years, Bettie BROCKIE, in 1990, and by his sister Elaine, brother Charles and son-law Andy CLARK. He is survived by his three children, Sharon, Gerry and Carol, his granddaughter Christine MAKI, his sisters Geraldine REES and Marie SMITH, his brothers-in-law Bill BROCKIE and Don SMITH and several nieces and nephews and their families.
Although Gerry was born in Grenfell, Saskatchewan and died in Toronto, he spent most of his life in Winnipeg, Manitoba. A graduate of the University of Manitoba, Gerry spent his entire business career with Wood Gundy, joining the firm in 1938 and retiring as a Vice President and Director in 1974. During the Second World War he served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Navy. He was an active and enthusiastic member of the Manitoba Club and served as its President in 1975 and 1976. He was also the Chairman of the Board of the Winnipeg Stock Exchange from 1969 to 1972 and was active throughout his business career with a number of charitable organizations.
For relaxation he enjoyed the company of his wife and their many good Friends, frequent dinners at Rae and Jerry's, annual trips to Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona, golf at the St. Charles Country Club and billiards at the Manitoba Club. Unfortunately, his retirement years were marred by the debilitating effects of Paget's Disease and the untimely death of his beloved wife Bettie. Our thanks to the staff at Deer Lodge Hospital Veterans' Wing and We Care in Winnipeg and at Sunnybrook K Wing and Selectcare in Toronto for all their help in his final years. Although he moved to Toronto in 1997 to be closer to his children, his heart always remained in Winnipeg. He returns there now. A graveside service will be held at Garry Memorial Park, 1291 McGillivray Blvd., Winnipeg on Tuesday, July 29th at 2: 30 p.m. followed by a reception at the on site funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations to a charity of choice would be greatly appreciated.

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SWINDEN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-10-21 published
Margaret Evelyn SWINDEN
By Mark FRASER Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - Page A28
Wife, mother, grandmother, friend, volunteer. Born January 17, 1909, in Brantford, Ontario Died July 27, in Newmarket, Ontario, of Alzheimer's disease, aged 94.
The last time I visited my grandmother in the nursing home she was asleep and I knew she did not have much time left. I knelt at the side of her bed grasping her hand, hoping that she would wake up so that I could see her big, bright smile one last time.
She never woke up.
Margaret Evelyn NORTHMORE was born in Brantford, Ontario, and lived most of her life in Toronto. In her teens, she had gone to work at Holt Renfrew; it was then that she met her future husband, William SWINDEN.
Margaret's father passed away at the beginning of the Depression, when she was 21, so she went to work at Eaton's for $12 a week to support her mother.
Margaret married William in 1937 and they raised one daughter, Lynn; they lived in Leaside and later York Mills. In November, 1972, Margaret lost her husband suddenly, but, true to her character, Margaret went on living life and moved to a new house directly behind her daughter's home in Scarborough. The two homes had connecting backyards so Margaret would always be close to her four grandchildren: Mark, Bonnie, Ann-Marie and Katherine.
Margaret always put the well-being of others ahead of her own that's why volunteer work was a part of her life for nearly 25 years. She never received any recognition or awards for this work, nor did she seek any. She didn't do it for recognition she did it because she cared.
Margaret volunteered with the Oriole York Mills church for several years doing home visitation. Later, she volunteered for six years at the Blythwood School swimming pool helping handicapped children. When she was 71, she began volunteering at North Bridlewood public school one day a week to help Grade 1 children with their reading.
She loved children and enjoyed her work at the school so much that she stayed for 15 years. She was known as "Grandma SWINDEN" to countless children at the school over the years and she truly loved the work.
At Halloween, Christmas and the end of the school year she would take gifts or candies for all of the children in her class.
On her last day at school one year, the teacher had told the children that this would be Grandma SWINDEN's last day and that she would be back after the summer. One boy approached her and said, "You might be dead." The next fall she approached the same boy again and said: "Michael, I made it!"
In addition to her volunteer work, Margaret was very active into her 80s, working out three times a week at her health club, living by herself very independently and still driving her car.
She had a busy social schedule with her many Friends and even had a chance to meet Elton John, going to his concert in Toronto with a backstage pass when she was 85.
Margaret lived her life with no regrets and often said that if she could do it over again, she wouldn't change a thing. She will always be remembered for her love of life, her generosity, her laughter and the big, bright smile that never seemed to leave her face.
Margaret had a sharp mind, a positive outlook on life and a wonderful sense of humour.
Sadly, the ravages of Alzheimer's changed all that. It robbed her of her dignity and her independence. It took her mind and it took her memory. But it couldn't take her big, bright smile.
Mark FRASER is Margaret SWINDEN's grand_son

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SWINTON o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-01-08 published
Photographer, reporter and royal press attaché
After years at The Globe and Mail, he went on to craft speeches for William DAVIS and to co-ordinate royal tours
By Allison LAWLOR Wednesday, January 8, 2003, Page R5
John GILLIES, a former reporter at The Globe and Mail, who later served as press attaché for the royal tours in the 1970s, died recently at his home in Mississauga, Ontario He was 74.
Known as "a two-way man," Mr. GILLIES was both a reporter and photographer at The Globe throughout the 1960s. He travelled extensively around Ontario, covering everything from fires and train derailments to inquests and trials.
Reporting was in his blood, said Rudy PLATIEL, a fellow two-way man who worked with Mr. GILLIES at The Globe.
He loved digging up stories and talking to people, Mr. PLATIEL recalled.
"For John, the worst time was when nothing was panning out, and he didn't get a story.
"We were sort of the generalists in the sense that we were ready to take on any story," Mr. PLATIEL added. "I think he enjoyed not knowing what was coming up next."
After more than a decade at The Globe and Mail, Mr. GILLIES left the paper for a job with the Ontario government.
Working as a communications officer in the Ministry of Education, his job, among others, was to field media calls and write speeches.
He frequently wrote them for William DAVIS -- who would later become the Premier of Ontario -- when Mr. DAVIS was the education minister. Mr. GILLIES spent 20 years working for the government before retiring in the late 1980s.
Of all the press officers at Queen's Park at the time, Mr. GILLIES was the most up-front, said Rod GOODMAN, a former ombudsman of The Toronto Star.
"If he knew something, he would tell you," Mr. GOODMAN said. "He was very straight and very honest."
During the 1970s, on leaves from the Ministry of Education, Mr. GILLIES served as press co-ordinator for the royal tours to Canada.
He would ride on the press bus, following the Royal Family on their visits to various parts of the country, arranging interviews and ensuring that things ran smoothly for the press.
"Several times, he got to meet the Queen," said his daughter, Laurie SWINTON. "He always said Prince Philip was a real card."
Her father was not known for his impeccable style: Ms. SWINTON recalls a photo taken of him standing with the Queen, wearing a rumpled $29 suit from a local department store. It was not uncommon for Mr. GILLIES to be seen with a crooked tie and untucked shirt. "He was probably one of the only guys at Queen's Park that dressed worse than me," said author and broadcaster Claire HOY.
John GILLIES was born in Toronto on March 4, 1928, the only son of George and Sarah GILLIES. The family lived in a tiny row house in the city's west end. His father worked in the rail yards, and his mother in a chocolate factory, often bringing home boxes of candy for her only son.
Not fond of school, Mr. GILLIES dropped out in Grade 10.
Later, in search of work, he walked into the office of the weekly newspaper in Port Credit (now a part of Mississauga), telling them he needed a job and would do anything. It just so happened that they required a sports editor and hired him.
"He just sort of fell into writing," Ms. SWINTON said.
In 1954, when Hurricane Hazel ripped through Toronto, killing 81 people, Mr. GILLIES's instinct was not to seek shelter in the basement of his home, but to hit the streets to talk to people and gather stories.
When Mr. GILLIES reached an area of the city where a number of new townhouses had been wiped out, a police roadblock met him, recalled his son, Ken GILLIES. A friend who was with him at the time pulled a badge from his coat pocket and flashed it at the officer. After police let the pair through, Mr. GILLIES turned to his friend and asked where he got the badge. "From my kid's Cheerios box this morning," his friend replied.
An avid golfer, it was on the greens in Port Credit that Mr. GILLIES met Frances SMITH, a woman who shared his passion for golf.
The couple married in 1954, and later had three children. Ms. GILLIES died of cancer in 1984.
A helpless optimist when it came to golf, Mr. GILLIES was known to go out under the most dire conditions. He would look at a dark, looming sky and declare that it was clearing, Ken GILLIES recalled. By contrast, said Mr. HOY, the task of getting Mr. GILLIES on the greens when he hadn't scheduled a golf game was next to impossible.
"I don't know anyone else who was that structured," Mr. HOY added, noting that his golfing buddy stuck to his weekly schedule, where each day was dedicated to a particular task. For example, shopping was done not on Thursday but on Saturday. "He had this one little idiosyncrasy," Mr. HOY joked.
A good-hearted man who was also a big lover of dogs, Mr. GILLIES was known to carry a stash of dog biscuits on his daily walks to give to the neighbourhood pooches. "He was a very simple guy," said his son Ken. "He didn't like a lot of ceremony and fanfare."
Mr. GILLIES leaves his three children, Don, Ken and Laurie, and two grandchildren, Corey and Grace.
John GILLIES, reporter / photographer, communications officer born in Toronto on March 4, 1928; died in Mississauga, Ontario on December 4, 2002.

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SWITZER o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-10-24 published
Norman KNOTT
By Maurice SWITZER Friday, October 24, 2003 - Page A22
Norman KNOTT
Anishinabe artist. Born February 5, 1945, in Toronto. Died July 31, of a heart attack, in Haliburton, Ontario, aged 58.
The day before he died, Norman KNOTT (Waabshki ki Mukwa -- White Bear) called to give me hell, in a good way.
"Hey, chum, you're going to cost me money," the renowned Anishinabe artist joked.
It seems the caption in July's Anishinabek News, under a photo of his large, four-by-four-foot canvas titled Native Heritage, said he was willing to part with it for $4,000. The actual selling price is $15,000. Norman had already received several inquiries at the lower figure.
Collectors from all over the world sought him out to buy his paintings, which were owned by collectors including Johnny Cash, Queen Elizabeth, Lee Trevino, and the late Pierre Elliot TRUDEAU.
"I still get people from France and Italy looking me up," he told me, during a late June visit to the Union of Ontario Indians head office near North Bay. Like many lesser-known Native artisans and crafters, he had just pulled into the parking lot and set up shop in the reception area.
He had no business cards, no website, and he hadn't been selling his art on the pow-wow trail for years. What about people interested in buying his paintings of splashing loons and perching cranes, or intricately carved moose antler combs, or bear-tooth pendants with jade inlay?
"They'll find me," he shrugged. "I go out when I want. I could have shows but as long as I can pay my bills..." his voice drifted off. "This not having a hydro bill is something else!"
He was describing a new lifestyle. He and his partner Crystal had recently retreated to a 200-acre hideaway, where they would burn wood for heat and grow their own vegetables. It wasn't too far from his Curve Lake First Nation roots, Norman said, although he was careful not to be too specific.
The retreat was a long way from what he called "the world of champagne and caviar" that he enjoyed when his 16-by-20-inch paintings sold for $9,000. Those were heady times, when he and other Native Woodlands artists like Norval MORISSEAU were the darlings of the North American art scene. The times had taken their toll, leaving Norman with a heart condition and a face that looked like it had weathered more than 58 years. He said he hadn't had a drink for the last 16 or 17 years, after a car accident.
These days he was trying to get his paintings, carvings, and jewelry into the hands of as many people as he could, hawking it like a door-to-door salesman and giving it away to those who couldn't afford it. He said true happiness was making his art affordable to everyone who liked it. Minutes after he and Crystal had packed up the mobile Norman KNOTT art gallery outside our office, he returned, handing out Norman KNOTT originals as giveaways for those who didn't (or couldn't afford to) buy them earlier.
Then, several weeks later, two telephone calls. The first, from Norman, joking about me understating his prices. The next day, word about his heart attack and death. He is survived by Crystal, former wife Barb, sons Tony and Norman, and daughters Jessica and Naomi.
I hadn't heard a loon's call all summer until one day on a high place overlooking Lake Laurentian near Sudbury. It reminded me of the little painted paddle -- a Norman KNOTT original -- I had purchased from him for a mere $60.
May his spirit be in a better place and shine in the night sky with all the other stars.
Maurice SWITZER is director of communications for the Union of Ontario Indians in North Bay.

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