Lives Lived

This page records the lives of members of congregation who have passed on. Our love and respect for them is reflected in these memorials. Click on Read More to view the entire text and accompanying photos.

Tribute to Keith Robinson

Rev. Diane Rollert, 12 June 2016

Keith Robinson was born in Burnham-on-Crouch on September 15, 1928. He was just too young to serve in the Second World War and his father was just too old. He grew up sailing the River Crouch, and watched the German bombers falling from the skies. He went to technical school to become an electrical engineer. He was hired by Marconi, the British telecommunications and engineering company, and was sent to Iran to work. 

While in Iran he fell in love with Kendal, a beautiful 19-year old American woman, on vacation with her mother and brother. They were married in Florida in 1961. Eventually, Marconi would send them to Montreal, where Keith would stay for the next forty years of his life. Together, Keith and Kendal had three sons in three years: Jeff, Scott and Stephen. He was a devoted father who taught his sons to sail. In the winter he would create a homemade ice rink for their hockey games. He was always generous and loving.

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Eulogy for Sylvia Huekendorff, ​​​​​​​September 16, 1937 - February 24, 2016

Rev. Diane Rollert, March 16, 2016

There is so much I don’t know about Sylvia’s past. Her nephew Roy, who will speak in a few minutes, has his own earliest memories of his Aunt Beezy, but I think, even for him, it has taken a lot of research to fill in many of the unknowns. Sylvia wasn’t one to talk much about herself. She was very private.

What I do know is that this church was central to her life for many years. She served as a warden, she was secretary of the board, she served on the lay chaplaincy committee, she was a member of the art collective, often here helping to install new art shows in our small stairwell art gallery. Long ago, she would write new member profiles for the newsletter. Each year she’d offer a lunch and swim at her swim club as part of our BidNite service auction. She was the kind of person who’d be there for you in pinch, finding you a ride home and watching your car for you when the keys got locked inside, generously paying a young member to take care of her cat when that cat was dying of cancer and that young person was through a rough time financially. Sylvia would delight at the reports of the cat’s activities while she was out. Sylvia was someone who would step forward when needed and then quietly recede into the background.

So much of Sylvia’s life was a mystery, yet for me, these last months told me so much of what I needed to know. 

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Eulogy for Rex Batten, April 30, 1926 - December 20, 2015

John Rex Batten was born on April 30, 1926 in Louisburg, Nova Scotia. He was raised in Halifax and Montreal. His earliest years were not easy. He spent much of his youth, until he entered the army, moving from one boarding house to another. He and his brother were often forced to go knocking on doors asking for a meal. When Rex found himself welcomed by a loving family, he saw another side of life. It was the future he imagined. He never forgot the generosity of those who gave him food and shelter.

Food became a constant passion in his life. To eat well, to be immaculately dressed, to raise a family that would know comfort and success, these were important values to him, values that arose out of having once lived with no security. He and his brother Louis aspired to do more with their lives, and they both succeeded.

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In Memory of Krystyna Matula, February 14, 1944 - May 28, 2014

A memorial service, delivered by Rev. Diane Rollert, was held for Krystyna on June 22, 2014.

Dans le caractère imprévisible de la mort,
il y a une présence mystérieuse,
qui affirme finalement
ce qui est éternel
dans toute la vie.
La terre retourne à la terre,
la poussière reste de la poussière,
mais ce qui est vraiment beau
dans la vie
augmente toujours.
Ce qui portait l'image de la terre
porte aussi l'image du ciel.

Earth returns to earth, dust remains dust.
But that which is truly beautiful in life rises ever onward.  
I remember the day that Krystyna and I worked together to translate these words into French.  For years she had been coming to the church office on Thursdays, first to take a walk with our administrator Verna and then to sit with me for a conversation in French. Often I’d begin by stumbling over words, feeling so awkward, but always by the end, we’d become totally immersed in our conversation, talking about philosophy, theology, the future of this church, or the future of the world.  Krystyna had a magical way of opening up a welcoming space for thinking, laughing and feeling at home.

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Remembering Ruth di Giovanni

Remembrance and meditation by Rev. Diane Rollert, 5 May 2013

Ruth di Giovanni died suddenly and unexpectedly on the night of Monday,  29 April 2013. The news came as a shock to all of us. Emails of remembrances for Ruth have been pouring in and we are putting together a book for her family.  We are all feeling devastated by this loss.

Ruth’s heart stopped in her sleep and I do not think there could be a more peaceful way to go.  It was certainly the way she had hoped it would be.  On that account, I am relieved.  But Ruth, you left us much to soon for us to even know how to say goodbye. You were a pillar of this community, the first face many of us would see on Sunday mornings.  You gave so much to this community, organizing Java Jivers, working on the Midday Meal, hospitality, music ministry, and to your passion for social justice through your work with the USC, CUSJ and the Raging Grannies.  You made us smile with your quirky humour, and you kept us laughing with your very select e-mail jokes.  You welcomed us with love in your smile, in your beautiful eyes, and with big hugs.  We will miss you so much.

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Pierre Godin: July 12, 1926 – March 7, 2012

A memorial service was held for Pierre, a long-time member of our community, March 31, 2012 at the Unitarian Church of Montreal. The following eulogies were written by his sister, Raymonde and his brother, Robert. Robert read both.

Nous sommes réunis pour nous recueillir sur la disparition de notre ami, notre frère. Je suis loin de vous et profondément présente par le sentiment et l'émotion qui m'ont accablée.

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Gordon Lorimer: February 15, 1922 - September 29, 2011

Remembrance by Rev. Diane Rollert, October 29, 2011

There are stars whose light reaches the earth only after they have disintegrated and are no more.
And there are people whose scintillating memory lights the world after they have passed from it.

These lights which shine in the darkest night are those which illume for us the path.
There are stars indeed.
Gordon is one of those people whose memory will continue to light the world long after he is gone.

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Remembering Diana Kleins 1934-2011

A memorial for Diana, who died at home March 3 after a long illness, was held on Saturday, March 19, 2011.The following was written by Rev. Diane Rollert.

The first time I met Diana Kleins, David and I were invited to her house for dinner. It was the summer before my ministry at this church began, and Diana was on the ministerial settlement negotiating team. She greeted us with so much warmth that we were instant friends. Over the years, there was rarely a week that went by without our paths crossing.

Early on, we’d chat when she came to volunteer for telecrew. Then, when Diana became the liaison between the church and the developer next door, she would stop by to commiserate. Throughout the years, I cherished the many Tuesdays when she and Nancy would share their mother-daughter perspectives during our Sacred Stories group. She also became a covenant group facilitator and led a very successful afternoon group. Diana was always a good sport and willing partner in gentle debate.

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Campbell Laing: January 26, 1925 - December 15, 2009

A memorial service, delivered by Rev. Diane Rollert, was held for Campbell Laing on April 26, 2010

I first met Campbell when he was in the hospital nearly four years ago as his illness was just beginning to take its toll. We spent a delightful hour together, as he told me of his love for his sister and his frustration that he was no longer able to drive himself to visit her on the West Island.  He shared stories of his having left his law practice to run his father’s textile business. 
He spoke proudly of his nephew Fred, and expressed his gratitude that he was always there for him.
Campbell was a very private man.  He grew up in anglophone Montreal, and had a great love for all things British throughout his life. Perhaps that included keeping a stiff upper lip, since he never complained, even to his last days. When asked how he was, he’d always answer, “Everything is fine!” 

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Dorothy Adams Clarke, October 17, 1918 - April 11, 2010

A memorial service for Dorothy was held on May 8, 2010 and delivered by Rev. Diane Rollert.

There is so much to say about Dorothy. How can I capture all that she was to each of us? 

She was born here in Montreal. The daughter of an architect, she grew up in the downtown core. She was one of four children, sister to George, Margaret, and Ken. Her family originally hailed from Scotland -- Brechin near Dundee, of the Gordon clan, to be exact.  She was always proud of her Scottish heritage and would chuckle when her friend Barbara Jackson would call her a “doughty Scott.”

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Celebration of the Life of Mitchell Bourke: March 26, 2010

This remembrance of Unitarian Church member Mitchell Bourke, 8 February 1923 - 23 March 2010, was delivered by Rev. Diane Rollert

Our opening words come from a poem by Howard Thurman 

I share with you the agony of your grief,
The anguish of your heart finds echo in my own.
I know I cannot enter all you feel
Nor bear with you the burden of your pain;
I can but offer what my love does give:
the strength of caring,
The warmth of one who seeks to understand
the silent storm-swept barrenness of so great a loss.
This I do in quiet ways,
That on your lonely path
You may not walk alone.

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Remembering Roseann Millin: A jewel in Indra's Net.

Remembrance of Roseann Millin 19 August 1938 - 30 November 2009
by Rev. Diane Rollert

How can I speak about Roseann without beginning with a haiku, that simple Japanese form of poetry she so loved.  This one is from Canadian poet, Alice Frampton:

rock throwing
our circles
about to meet

I first met Roseann when I arrived here in 2006.  I’ll never forget her warm welcome and the large bag of inspirational books she handed to me, along with several editions of her TaiJi newsletter.  That was Roseann.  She always had something to share. She would cast stones into the water and they would ripple ever outward.

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Edith Jacobson Low-Beer, 1916 - 2009

Edith passed away peacefully at the Hotel-Dieu Hospital in Montreal, on October 28, 2009, after a short battle with cancer. Beloved widow of John Low-Beer, daughter of May Silver Jacobson and Percy Nathaniel Jacobson, predeceased by her son, Peter Alfred, she will be fondly remembered by her daughters, Susan and Jane, her grandchildren, Luke (Shani), Leif, Nathaniel and Jules, as well as her great-grandson, Jasper, her son-in-law, William Parsons, her sister, Janet Jacobson Smith, and her niece and nephew, Joann and Peter Kwass.

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Remembering Jean Mary Cumming: June 15, 1913 - March 24, 2009

A memorial service for Jean Mary Cumming, who died March 24, 2009 at the age of 95, was held March 27, 2009 and presided over by Rev. Diane Rollert.

Welcome to this space which is made sacred again and again by your presence.

Here we gather to share the milestones of our community, the beginnings and the endings.
Here we cherish life, celebrate love, and mourn our losses.  

Today I welcome you into a place of memory and compassion as we gather to say goodbye to Jean Mary Cumming.

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Andy Hugessen - June 30, 1926 - December 5, 2008

Remembrance of Andy Hugessen, delivered by Rev. Diane Rollert at a memorial service Jan. 11, 2009

My last memory of Andy before he went into the hospital: he was coming in the back door of Phoenix Hall with his heavy winter coat and his big boots.

I was rushing past the open door in the foyer, all the way on the other side of the hall, when I saw him out of the corner of my eye.
“Oh good,” I thought, “Andy’s here, even if Jane isn’t well enough to come today.”

I smiled with thanks to see him, and for a moment, even from a distance, I saw that twinkle in his eye.

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Jane Currie Hugessen - July 10, 1930 - November 25, 2008

A memorial service was held for Jane on December 6, 2008 and was presided over by Rev. Diane Rollert.

This is a hard day to welcome you to this sanctuary.

Your presence and your love is most needed this day and in the days to come. I know that Jane wanted us to celebrate her life, and that we will do.

But I know Jane would have forgiven our sadness and our tears this day, for I bring you painful news.

We start this service with the sad announcement that Andy, Jane’s beloved husband, died late yesterday afternoon.

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Remembering Breen Marien - August 28, 1925 - September 30, 2008

At a memorial service held Oct. 10, 2008, Rev. Diane Rollert delivered these opening words, from Unitarian poet and minister Robert Terry Weston.

"In mystery our whole life is lived, nor may any one see behind the veil of physical existence.
Yet in the little knowledge we do taste, there is a suggestion of a mystery still more sublime and wonderful than life.

To look out into the stars in the deep of night is to feel the vastness of space as beyond our ken, to feel infinitely humbled; yet how much greater than the stars, and more wonderful than space and night, is the miracle of human life!

Here in this tiny corner of the universe we know a mystery more profound, a glory more sublime, than all we know or guess about the stars, for here within the mystery of flesh is worked the miracle of mind and love.

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Remembering Leonard Picard - February 15, 1915 - August 16, 2008

A memorial was held for Len on Sept. 5, 2008. This is the eulogy read by Rev. Diane Rollert.

This is hard. I loved this man. What a treasure in our community. I will never forget the first time I met Len. It was my very first Sunday two and half years ago.  

“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world," he told me, smiling that big smile of his, as he shook my hand.

Just like most Sunday mornings, he had cheerfully ridden the bus to church by himself that day.

What a surprise it was to learn that he was in his early nineties. 

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A tribute to "Papa" (Len Picard), by his grandson, Andrew Glencross

I’m Andrew, Leonard’s grandson. To me, he was always known as “Papa,” and I feel lucky to’ve grown up with such a strong and unique example of what it can mean — if one is lucky — to be an old man.

His sense of humour, generosity, goodwill, and determination have been beacons to me of a life properly lived, over the years. And if I haven’t inherited these traits through the blood, so to speak, I hope that I will continue to remember Papa’s example the rest of my life. Because I’d like to become the rare kind of old man who is fun and excited by new possibilities, patient and kind — not from a sense of duty or manners, but from a genuine caring about everyone around me, spreading joy wherever I go.

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