Luanne Demers, Founding President

It was with much sorrow that we learned of the passing of a lovely Luanne Demers and Katie, from Facebookwoman – our friend and founder of STDOA Luanne Demers. Luanne died of cancer, too young, this past weekend.

Those of us on the executive of the STDOA met Luanne three years ago when she began bringing her dogs, Lab crosses named Katie and Buddy, to play with our dogs. I remember her watching Katie and Buddy wrestling with each other and anyone that would play, and saying “what we need in town is a proper dog park”. The response of some, like me, was “yeah, like that’s going to happen! Been tried, hasn’t worked.” She said, “well, it’s gonna happen this time.”

And it did. She organized us in a group, which was about as easy to do as organizing wound-up dogs when it’s time to go home – as in, not! Luanne at left ribbon cutting at Lions Club Dog Park May 2010She quietly but efficiently had us establish a committee, approach council, look for suitable land, and lobby for permission and funds. Never heavy-handed, never raising her voice, never complaining. Just getting it done and getting you to do it without even realizing it was getting done.

Dog-lover, mother and worker

All the while, she and we knew about the cancer. She was a mother and a worker. She appeared on a Dec. 2008 CTV W5 news documentary about hard times in St. Thomas, talking about employment searching in a bad economy. She told her story, and that of so many in our area, clearly and dispassionately. She didn’t ask you to feel sorry for her. All she asked was just to listen to what she was saying about the need for work.

Luanne with Lab puppySimilarly, with the dog park, she just asked that all residents – City Council, non-dog owners and dog owners alike – listen to why a dog park was needed. And she succeeded. We got a dog park and an ongoing group committed to the welfare of dogs. I don’t think we would have done so without her.

Luanne officially stepped down as president of STDOA in mid 2010. She needed to focus on her own life and family. We missed her then, and we still do. I will never forget her lovely smile and her laugh as she watched those silly dogs of hers roll and tumble and chase each other. It was impossible to not smile yourself just looking at her.

Note: This was first published on my St. Thomas Dog Blog. With it no longer online, I have moved it here but kept the original posting date. I still think of Luanne and miss her.