Denise Marguerite Bissonnette (nee Regnier) September 14, 1936 – January 9, 2022

“Nothing in Life is more gratifying than your Family and memories of those special moments we all shared and recount together.”

In the small French speaking village of St. Francis Xavier, on September 14th, 1936, Denise Marguerite was the first born to Gustave and Solange Regnier. Growing up, Denise loved her siblings Rene, Jeannette, Marcel and Lorraine, and she was called upon to assist around the home and the farm. They were all very close and it is here where Denise developed her strong sense of family. She would later pass these values on to her own family. Sundays were very important, as after church in St. Francis meant a lot of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends would gather at the Regnier family home for an afternoon of sharing stories, laughter and of course good food. One of her fondest memories was one special Christmas after midnight mass, with a house full of people, her mom came upstairs with the 60 lbs. turkey and tried to place it in the oven whole, and Grandpa yelled “it’s too big” followed by rounds of laughter. The surgical work to make it fit was methodical and many hands were needed to make this happen. You can still hear the laughter in the kitchen to this day. Denise enjoyed her family and extended family and was always happy to hear from them throughout her life.

Upon graduating high school in St. Francis, Denise left to go teach in Northern Manitoba. Denise would join up with her cousins and friends on the weekends and go dancing. Denise loved to dance. It was at one of these affairs that she was introduced, by her cousin, to the person she would live the rest of her life with, George. There were many tales of them getting together on the weekends, to socialize and dance - after all, it was the 50’s. Shortly after, the two of them held their own social event on their wedding day, December 28th, 1959. This union was the foundation of their lives, and they were together for 61 years.

After getting married they moved to live, work and ultimately raise their family in Keewatin, Ontario. Denise transitioned from a working gal to her ultimate calling of raising her family. One of her greatest moments was the day she and George bought her dream home on Superior Street, where they lived for almost 50 years. Denise was always the good neighbour. When a new family moved in, she would walk over with a freshly baked pie or cake to welcome them. On one special occasion, two young lawyers and their new family moved in next door and she became Auntie Denise. This would become a lifelong bond with Jennifer, and the Carten Kids, who became like Family.

There are so many fond memories with our mom growing up on Superior Street, where we never came home to an empty house. Mom was always there to greet us, offer a hug and a snack, and if it was winter, kiss our rosy cheeks. One of our most treasured family memories is Little Marcel and the importance his life played in our family. His annual pulling down of the Christmas Tree before Christmas Day, dancing in the kitchen, the finger marks etched on the small birch tree in the backyard, and the family trips to see him in Thunder Bay. Mom always made sure that Marcel was present in our family life. He became our guardian angel, there to look after us - this was Mom’s doing.

Denise couldn’t swim, so to ensure that her boys could, every summer in the mornings we would all walk to Keewatin Beach for swimming lessons, followed by an afternoon of fun at the beach. Of course, we would have our picnic lunch of various homemade sandwiches - with a favorite being fresh sliced strawberries with white sugar on white bread - then wait the mandatory one hour to go back in the lake until it was time to go home for dinner. On the hot summer nights our family would all jump into the car and head back for one more dip in the lake and then off to bed.

After raising her boys, mom took it upon herself to re-enter the workplace after George’s unfortunate accident. This was a significant decision for her, and she went about her work with the same passion as raising her family. Mom just loved meeting new people, and working at the Daily Miner and News became a big part of her life. She especially enjoyed interacting and working with the local young news carriers who would bring in their biweekly collections for reconciliation. She had fond memories of the staff and the relationships she formed while there. Denise really found her place when her youngest son, Marc, came back home to takeover Hap’s on the Harbourfront. Both her and George became ‘fixtures,’ with Denise working the kitchen to ensure those Hap’s Chicken Fingers and the dipping sauce were made just right. Denise was very proud to be a part of the Hap’s family.

Denise’s faith never wavered and she enjoyed attending Saturday evening mass at St Louis Church. Later on, George and Denise cherished many dinners following mass at A&W with Jacque and Paulette.

Her most treasured relationships were Alyx, Samara, Luc and Leah - her grandchildren. She just loved being a grandma or memere. The kids could not give enough hugs and kisses to satisfy, and just being around them gave her immense joy. Each of them has their unique memories of her; Alyx, always being excited to receive a Christmas package with her homemade fudge, sucre à la crème, and getting to serve her traditional fruitcake at our wedding. Samara, our long phone conversations, with the numerous and heartfelt laughs we enjoyed together. Leah, going for walks together and being pushed on her walker while she hummed a tune, memere loved her music. Luc, going to Pinecrest and playing my guitar, singing Christmas Carols for my memere and watching her singing and dancing along.

Predeceased by her husband George this summer, left to celebrate Denise/Mom/Grandma/Memere’s life are her sons and their families: Daniel (Deb) and granddaughter Alyx (Courtney); Raymond (Lynell) and granddaughter Samara; Marc (Lana) and grandchildren Luc and Leah.

Our family wants to thank the staff at Pinecrest. We have a profound respect for the dedication and the sincere care that was shown to our parents. Our family's experience will never be forgotten. We cannot thank you enough for the dignified experience; you made it their home. Dr. Thomas and Dr. Limerick - thank you for your extraordinary dedication, care and ultimate guidance as we navigated those most difficult family moments. To the staff of Unit 2, well you are just the best! Your care, compassion, and professionalism are just amazing. We will never forget the interactions, terms of endearment and ultimate respect you showed to both Denise and George. You made a significant impact on them, and our family, and in Denise’s final days she would say; “I’m so happy, I just love them all.” You will always be remembered for this.

With her Life’s work complete, Denise has now joined George and Little Marcel. With the music playing, they are together dancing, singing and sailing away with the sun on their faces and the warm wind at their back.

Daniel, Raymond, Marc et nos familles veulent vous dire merci pour une vie de souvenirs. Votre amour est dans nos cœurs pour toujours.

“MOM, MOM you’re speaking French!!”

Daniel, Raymond, Marc and our families want to say thank you for a lifetime of memories. Your love is in our hearts forever.

In lieu of flowers, the family would ask that you consider a donation in support of the District of Kenora Homes and Community Support Services - Pinecrest ‘Build a Snowman’ Campaign to support resident activities: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/67776?fbclid=IwAR2pq7TVFi0_YKK-dN71UB-DwcEfxj2BFRsECoaXgOPc9zhapSAbPVKVXaw or the Lake of the Woods District Hospital Foundation.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.brownfuneralhomekenora.com for the Bissonnette family.