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.

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27 thoughts on “Luanne Demers, Founding President”

  1. What a beautiful dedication to luanne,thank you so much Dorothy for honouring Luanne”s dedication to getting a dog park in St Thomas(esp when we were kicked out of […]!!!) I remember going to Luannes house with my camera to take some photos(kinda a funny story) and I suggested we also get some with Katie,the photo turned out beautiful and im glad to see it found its way to you….Missing you everyday,I know the sun is shining all the time for you Debxx

    1. Hi Deb – if it’s the beautiful photo of her and Katie in the house, it was on her fb page. It is really nice of both of them. The other one, her with the puppy is from the place that you mentioned and I removed the name of ;). As you see from Char’s comments, Luanne hasn’t stopped helping the dog park even now. She’ll be remembered on our memorial bench now that we’ve started a fund for it with a donation from her family and friends.

      It was a really good time, those months a few years ago, when we all met with our dogs. Luanne had a lot to do with the fun and keeping us all on track for a dog park. Thanks for writing.

  2. Hello All

    I am thrilled to inform you that with the gracious donations at Luanne’s Memory Celebration on the 20th ~ we have raised $400 that will be donated to the St. Thomas Dog Park in Lu’s honour.

    Dorothy can you let everyone here know and email me as well so that I can let them know what will be done with the monies at the park?

    Also, with monies collected there will be a Memory Leaf mounted at the Memorial Gardens in Pinafore Park for Luanne. Approx 6-8 weeks.

    There was an obit for Lu in Saturday’s London paper and it will be in St. Thomas paper on Wednesday.

    Miss you Lu!!

  3. I was saddened to read in the paper about the passing of Luanne. I worked with Luanne years ago (20+) at Canada Trust. It was good times. Luanne moved on to other employment, and i lost touch with her. I viewed the link of the interview with ctv in 2008 and watching her face and voice showed Luanne as a women in her 40’s it brought back memories of a young Luanne. i always wondered what happened to Luanne. I did find her facebook page months and months ago, but did not send a friend request. Sad.

  4. I just found out tonight that my childhood friend Luanne has passed. I knew she had been fighting cancer, but unfortunately I was never in touch with her for too many years. Through friends and her family I heard of her battles. It is a sad thing when you loose track of friends, for whatever reasons. She has been in my thoughts for years, whenever I run into a family member, even just two weeks ago another childhood friend and I discussed how we were missing her. Sadly we will never have the chance to touch base with her. I was saddened that there was no announcement for a service, but I will have my own tribute, a toast, reflect on some old photo and remember many times we shared as childhood friends.
    To Luanne!

    1. Dear Liz, I was very touched by your comments. I am finding out how much Luanne meant to so many people. She won’t be forgotten, and I think we’ve all been having our own tributes to her and remembering. To Luanne! Thanks for writing.

  5. My condolences to Luanne’s friends and family. Like many in St. Thomas, I didn’t know Luanne, but appreciate her contributions to animal welfare and the community. She is an inspiration.

  6. So, so sorry to hear of Luanne’s passing. She did fight, both for the park and to battle her illness. Our thoughts are with her family at this terrible time.

  7. Both Joe and I, were saddened to hear of Luanne’s passing. She was a kind and gentle soul who always had a smile and took time to speak to you. We so admired her dedication to make it better for the dogs. Even though the cancer caused her great personal grief, she stayed with the project. I can still see her on opening day at the off leash dog park cutting that ribbon. She was so pleased.
    Our Heartfelt Condolences to her family and friends

    1. Yes, Luanne was pleased at the grand opening. I’m so glad she was there to see it actually happen. I think she was glad too to have Joe there to step up as president. They’d been doing the planning and work together so she knew it was in capable hands with you two.

  8. Thank you so much for the beautiful tribute to Luanne. You remarked on her remarkable laugh, which was one of her many attributes. She touched so many lives and we will all miss her deeply. Blessings to you and Luanne’s family.

  9. I am sad to hear of Luanne’s passing. She fought the cancer like she did for us with the establishment of the dog park…with every ounce of her being. She was a great lady with spunk and a positive spirit whenever I saw her. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family for their great loss. She will be remembered with admiration.

    1. Hi Sandy, yes, it’s such sad news. Luanne was a fighter, and so positive in her outlook. She made me happy just being around her. Indeed, a hard time for her friends and family. I hope there’s some comfort for them in knowing how many of us also admired her. Thanks for writing.

  10. This article was beautifully written and absolutely captured the essence of Luanne.
    Thank you so much for acknowledging her hard work and effort in creating this wonderful spot for our furry 4-legged family members.
    Lu is loved and missed by many, many people.
    I don’t think she ever realized just how many lives she touched in her short time with us.

    Thank you,

    1. Thank you so much, Nikky. No, I doubt if she realized and probably would have just laughed if anyone told her. I do hope she realized how important she was to the dog park and animal welfare in St. Thomas. I hope she took pride in that. Her “we need a dog park” statement has extended to so much more that’s been done by STDOA by itself and with other animal groups in the past year. And it all came from her decision to do something, not just talk about it.

  11. what a lovely tribute to Luanne – i was so happy to see this posted today!! Although i did not get to know Luanne as well as i would have liked….i do know she was a lovely gal who had a bright sunny smile. She was passionate about getting St. Thomas a doggie park and her four-legged friends brought her much joy and happiness. She will be missed by many i am sure of that – she was a warrior throughout this ordeal so i have been told and an inspiration to me….may her lovely soul rest in eternal peace!

    1. Hi Margie, I think you and Luanne would have got along really well. And Riley and her dogs! Can’t remember if they ever played together, but they’d be a good match. Yes, Luanne was a warrior in everything, I think. I’ve just remembered that she was also an excellent dog trainer. She helped me a lot with Leo. I started calling her “my personal trainer.”

    1. Hi Char, glad you saw this and that you like it. It was hard to write, but I smiled a lot too while doing so. Remembering her great laugh and also picturing her – the determination you could see just in how she stood when something needed doing. A great lady and a great loss.

  12. I was very touched to read this blog today. Luanne was a dear friend of mine and I am very grateful that you posted this. I know how passionate Lu was about our four-legged friends and how much she adored her “Katie”. She was very dedicated to the work she did with your organization and took great pride in it.
    She was a beautiful soul and will be greatly missed and thought of every single day of my life.
    Good-bye my dear friend….you’ve definately left your mark…..

    1. Hi Debbie, yes, Luanne was beautiful outside and in. I am so glad that I met her. It was a special time when we all got to know each other – nice time. All the dogs in St. Thomas have something to be thankful to Luanne for. Hope you and all her family are doing ok. Thanks for writing.

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