OCTOBER 19, 1948 – AUGUST 16, 2021
After a life long struggle with cancer, with great sadness we announce that Bonnie passed away at home peacefully in Courtenay, BC on Monday, August 16, 2021 at noon in her husband’s loving arms.
She always faced her illness with amazing courage and grace.
Bonnie age 72, was born October 19, 1948 in Fort Frances, Ontario to parents Clarence and Helen Gaylord.
Bonnie graduated from Fort Frances high school in 1965, and she began her work career as a bookkeeper for the local paper mill. Later she would move to Winnipeg and then Vancouver in 1968 continuing her career in accounting at Haida Glass for almost 20 years. Hawaii and Alaska in her early years were her favourite places and prided herself as ‘the orange lady’ always making sure the soccer kids ate healthy. In 1996, Bonnie moved to Waterloo with her high school sweetheart Alan ‘Joe’ Werenko and they married the next year in the Knox United Church in Fort Frances with many old high school friends in attendance. She always called him ‘my Joe’. They traveled extensively to Fort Frances to see their parents and daughter Cathy in Atikokan. In Waterloo she joined her husband in one of his businesses that made hand rolled waffle cones. It was a fun business and they travelled to every city and town and beach hut in Ontario. A teller at the bank one day said to her “you smell like a cookie”, it was a fun business. In 2004 they sold the business and moved to Kelowna where they lived until moving to Comox on Vancouver Island in 2014.
In Kelowna they travelled BC and Washington on Alan’s bike… he told everyone she was the best buddy seat sitter. She said she felt very safe on his bike because he wasn’t drinking coffee, talking on his phone, reading the Globe & Mail, and driving all at the same time. Bonnie loved being back in BC. Life was good and friends came from everywhere to stay with them and enjoy the Okanagan Valley and all its world famous wines. They travelled the world… New York, Florida, Bermuda, Bahamas, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, the UK, and all over France for a month and to her genealogical roots near Paris, Switzerland, Cabo San Lucas, Las Vegas, skiing in Whistler, a 50th birthday week sailing to Desolation Sound, a 60th birthday houseboat week on the Shuswap with friends and two weeks with best friends on a home exchange in Cyprus, and so many more places. She started her volunteer career there at the Kelowna Cancer Centre chemotherapy unit.
Bonnie loved life in the Comox Valley where her son Bud and family live. She was most proud of her five years of volunteering at ‘The Views’ care home in Comox… stopped only because of COVID. She loved caring for people and comforted many friends also stricken with cancer. During her life she loved sewing, hiking, biking, skiing, swimming and took up pickle ball on the Island. She was a voracious reader and was never without a book. She loved country music especially Alison Krauss and old 60’s Rock & Roll. Grandkids soccer and basketball games were always exciting. Her last wish was fulfilled a week before her passing when two of her grandkids Maddy and Brady came from Vancouver and spent the day with her.
Bonnie was plagued with a mutant BRCA gene and dealt with breast cancer in 1985 and 2005 and then recurrent peritoneal cancer in 2016, 2018 and 2019. Diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2016 she defied the odds and had five more good years of life. She had a three-line note pinned on the wall that said “You Can’t Cure It, You Can’t Control It, You Didn’t Cause It”. Her last long 70th Birthday trip with ‘Joe’ in 2018 was to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry in the historical Ryman Hall, a month on Anna Maria Island in Florida, beautiful days in Savannah Georgia, and back through The Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. A month before Bonnie passed away, they stayed a few days in Ucluelet on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. She loved to travel but it slowly became more difficult and spending time at home was where she loved to be. ‘Joe’ knew how to keep her sweet with red licorice, jujubes, and dark chocolate, and don’t mess with the remote on Wednesday nite, Chicago shows! Mealtime always included a lit candle, handholding, a prayer, and country music. It kept their faith strong.
Bonnie is survived by her husband the love of her life Alan ‘Joe’ Werenko; daughter Cathy (Rod) Hoard of Atikokan, Ontario; son Bud (Shannon) Bablitz of Black Creek, BC; son Marc (Ally) Hutchinson of Vancouver, BC; and step-daughters Jennifer (Erni) Legault of Waterloo, Ontario and Nichole Wagner of Waterloo, Ontario; and 8 grandchildren Maddy, Brady, Evan, Noah, Jack, Connor, Charlie, and Finn. Brothers Barry (Shirley) Gaylord of Pinawa, Manitoba and Brian (Debbie) Gaylord of Fort Frances, Ontario, many nephews and nieces, and endless close friends.
Bonnie was predeceased in death by her dad Clarence Gaylord, and sadly when she was only 13 by her mom Helen, and brother-in-law Morris Werenko of Fort Frances, Ontario.
Special thanks to her supremely caring oncologist Dr. Atwell with a wry sense of humour. When Bonnie disclosed that Al was keeping her going with chocolate he said that was great because at his house they loved to eat chocolate just short of the point of throwing up, a kind of chocolate Nirvana! Dr. Bakshi her local GPO was most sensitive and caring and guided her through years of meds and chemotherapy. The nurses in the chemo unit of the hospital became some of Bonnie’s best friends… they all loved her and cared for her.
A special private family dinner was held and there is a Bonnie memorial ‘life well lived’ nite at the Griffin in Comox, organized by her lady friends on Friday nite, August 27. A memorial service will be held in Fort Frances later this year.
Website memorial at https://www. dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/courtenay-bc/ bonnie-werenko-10311185