My aunt, Irene Bebee (Fournier), passed away in North Bay yesterday (Monday, August 5th), just before noon at Cassellholme. She was 91. She lived only 2 days beyond my aunt, her younger sister, Florence Lalande, who had passed on Saturday, August 3rd.
Dear sister of my dad, Leonard Fournier (North Bay) and Mervin Fournier (Sturgeon Falls). Predeceased by her husband, Ray Bebee (North Bay), sisters Florence Lalande (North Bay) and Pauline Schneider (Wetaskiwin, Ab) and brothers Eugene Fournier (Parry Sound), Arthur Fournier (Sudbury) and Rene Fournier (Richmond Hill). Fondly remembered by many nieces, nephews and numerous other relatives and friends.
Cremation arrangements are being prepared by Martin’s Funeral Home. Respecting Irene’s wishes, there will be no visitation or funeral service.
Irene was born in North Bay on October 28th, 1927, the daughter of Herman (Henry) Fournier and Cecile (Lalande). She grew up on McIntyre West and later Nipissing Street with her 7 siblings. That was back in the days when the Pinewood subdivision didn’t exist – neither did Pinehill coffee shop, nor St. Alexander’s school. My grandparents raised pigeons and the kids snared rabbits and fished to put food on the table. Times were tough, but good.
Irene’s passion was the outdoors and she thoroughly enjoyed fishing and blueberry picking on Trout Lake and Lake Nipissing when she was a child and hunting as she got older. When Irene and my uncle Ray purchased their Talon Lake cottage, she’d spend hours gardening and scavenging for wild herbs and plants. She knew her wild, edible and medicinal plants as well as any expert, and could cook any type of wild game. Even after my uncle Ray died in 1980, she continued to go to her beloved camp by herself, until she sold it over a decade ago.
Irene also loved to sing (and knew the words to most popular old songs) whether you wanted her to or not – lol! And she loved to play cards.
Irene was one tough lady, with a wicked sense of humour and an even more wicked punch (as Dr. Prince, her doctor at Cassellholme, can attest to).
Up until the last several months, Irene loved to serenade the Cassellholme residents and staff. She enjoyed listening to the entertainers that visited the home and loved to sing along with them. There wasn’t a shy bone in her body. She also loved to have an occasional beer. Anyone who knew her will agree that she was one feisty lady – but always pleasant, joking and rarely without a smile.
Although Irene was a joker and could trade jabs with the best of them, she also had a heart of gold. I can remember one year when I was just a kid and my parents had somehow lost the rent money. Irene and Ray showed up at our door a few days later with a huge load of groceries. The numerous brown paper grocery bags were filled with veggies, fruit, canned goods and even a few treats. It was surely appreciated by my family!
Thanks to the nurses and PSW’s at Cassellholme who took great care of Irene, to Dr. Prince for his care, to my cousin John Boulè, whom I know visited her often before and after work (at Cassellholme), during his lunch breaks and in Irene’s final hours. And thanks to my dad, Len Fournier, former hunting, blueberry picking and fishing partner, who cared for her until the end – thanks dad.
Rest in peace, Aunt Irene. You will be missed.
(Submissions for tribute essays about ordinary-extraordinary people welcome, email: [email protected])