On the occasion of Father’s Day, I wanted to remember my Dad who passed away on August 20 2011 after bravely battling cancer for twenty months. We celebrated his life with ceremonies the following week during which nearly 300 people came to pay their respects and countless more sent messages of condolences by telephone, through the post, and via an online memorial. His obituaries were published in the Montreal Gazette, the Nova Scotia Chronicle-Herald, the St John’s Telegram, and Canada’s National Post.
My sister Cathy and I delivered eulogies which was a great way to share memories of our dad with others. Cathy’s is printed below, and I’ll post mine online in a few days.
Age 71, Hugh died peacefully on Saturday evening, 20 August 2011 at his home in Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec, surrounded by his family. He bravely battled cancer for twenty months. Hughie, as he was known to many of his childhood friends and family, was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia to Retha Day and Jack (Eli) Rowe. He moved to Montreal in 1941 and grew up in Rosemount as a member of the 9th Avenue gang and then had a very successful career as a stock-broker, financial advisor and options trader. Hugh was the exquisite, darling husband of Maureen (ne Harrold) for the past 34 wonderful years, beloved father of Marjorie (Ralph), Corinne (Clive), Catherine (Paul), Ryan (Kun), Anna (Antonio) and Max (Greg), and grandfather of Alex, Melanie, Michael, Christopher, Lina, Brandon, Courtney and an eighth (a grand-daughter) on the way. He is fondly remembered by his first wife Lise Verret. An avid runner for thirty years, Hugh completed several marathons and was a champion of healthy living and an amateur body-builder. He was a decades-long member of the Libertarian Party of Canada, a member of the Mensa club, and he read books and newspapers extensively. Hugh loved to watch sports – particularly his beloved Montreal Canadiens. He was very proud of his extensive stamp collection. He had also conducted a large study of his familys history back to the mid-17th Century. In recent years he went on many amazing road trips with his wife Maureen and loyal dog Davey to explore different corners of North America and Europe. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Canadian Cancer Society or to the St. Marys Hospital Foundation. Many heartfelt thanks to Dr. Adrian Langleben and the wonderful nursing staff at the St. Marys Oncology Treatment Centre. Visitation will take place at Rideau Funeral Home (4275 Boul. Des Sources in Dollard-des-Ormeaux) from 2:00pm to 5:00pm, and 7:00pm to 9:00pm on Wednesday 24 August 2011. The funeral service will take place at the same location at 2:00pm on Thursday 25 August 2011.
Eulogy by Cathy Rowe
Good afternoon to all the friends, colleagues, and family I see here today.
Thank you for coming and giving your friendship and support to the Rowe Family and honouring Hugh, my Dad. Thank you to all my Brothers and Sisters, nephews and neices for your support in the last few months during Dad’s illness.
I have been thinking over the last few days of what to say in front of all of you. How do I put into words a tribute that would be worthy of my dad? How do you write about someone who has lived for 71 years and condense all your memories, thoughts, love for that person into just a few pages?
As I stand before you, carrying Hugh’s latest grand daughter – I realize that the best tribute I can give to my dad is from my heart. So with loving fondness and cherished memories by all of us, – I will share this with you and hope that you can feel and see who my dad was and will always be in our hearts.
Over the last 20 months many of Hugh’s friends came out of the woodwork – captivating us with stories of my dad growing up with his buddies on 9th Avenue.
He was known as Skid as a teenager and Skid Rowe, along with his 9th Avenue friends spent many happy times choosing random places on maps, going off on weekend jaunts, picking up girls, playing drinking games, as well as dancing… – one of my dad’s favorite dances… doing the twist! Hugh has stayed Friends with the gang to this day. They have journyed together through thick and thin and their friendship has spanned for over 50 years.
As time goes by, Hugh happens to be at the courthouse and meets the love of his life, Maureen. He manages to find her phone number , despite the fact that she had recently moved, and with determination and persistance they fall in love. May 21st, 1977 was a hot, glorious, uplifting day… their wedding day. With Edelweiss playing in the background, vows said and love surrounding Maureen and Hugh… 34 years of bliss and happiness began.
I was very fortunate to be able to work with my father at DPM for 8 years. My dad and I often shared memories over the years of social events and stories.
Some of Dad’s fondest memories were of the DPM pool parties he gave and went to, all the christmas parties watching the Village People skit, family feud, and the famous golf tournaments. !!
I remember listening to Hugh’s lively debates about his stock market predictions and expectations with John Howard, Tony Diab, Chris, Joe, Tom as well as numerous tax discussions with Frank. Hugh was a quiet,soft spoken man with a sense of fairness, and he never needed a calculator! His mathematical tricks, intellect and politness will be remembered by all.
We all knew in the department that no matter where Hugh was, if he was out of the office, Sophie would always get a phone call from him at 4pm sharp wanting to know the close of the market. He would walk quickly wherever he went with his suit jacket billowing behind him down the hall and his hair flying everywhere earning him the affectionate nickname of “the Crazy Professor”.
Let’s not forget his famous race around the block at Assante where he was challenged that he could not outrun someone 20 + years his junior. My father loved being given a challenge and rarely lost. Everyone came pouring out of the building to watch the race and I was so proud of my dad when he won.
When Dad started his running career, we (his 6 children) would cheer him on with pom poms, and run next to him the last 1/4 mile, or just a few steps, depending on our mood, egging him on to finish the race and go for it. His grandchildren have memories of their grandfather running with them and doing the same thing.
Alex, Melanie, Michael, Christopher, Lina, Brandon, Courtney have various memories such as his cheering voice at soccer and football games, karate shows and running races. A yearly tradition with all the grand children was the 1km ” corn on the cob” run at the Dollard Civic center. Challenges of chess playing and being beaten in 5 moves, and knowing that they had a grandfather who was actually an amateur body builder! He was a super hero!
I am sure that they will always remember the multiplication and mathematical questions he would inevitably ask them! And they would bravely stand next to him and say ” I don’t know the answer”. or ” I need a calculator”…… and that goes for his children too!!
Dad loved a challenge and he always challenged us and his grandchildren to try and beat him, whether it was at chess, crib, cards or Balderdash.
I must talk about the inspirations he gave to his 6 children and memories that he created in each of us.
He loved Marjorie’s tarts, Maureen’s date squares, ice cream and had a passion for Watermelon! I have no idea how many hiding places he has at home for his chocolate bars, but I do know he must have more than one.!
He would stand in the backyard flexing his biceps, triceps, his pecs while Maureen would snap pictures!
Dad loved his Dog Davey.. his workouts at the gym, playing tennis, watching hockey, and his politics.
Dad told me that he loved watching Maureen planting, tending the flower beds, vegetable gardens, and he would go around all summer long watering everything for her. He was very very proud of her and her green thumb!
We must have hundreds of pictures of Dad with his brown Hat! He loved that hat!!
Max was very grateful to Hugh because he made his mom so happy and always admired Hugh for sticking to his moral and political principles, – even if it did not agree with his own. The one memory that Max has – is when Hugh changed his viewpoint.
Hugh had always stated his opposition to same-sex marriage, however, he attended Max and Greg’s wedding in May 2005 and toasted their marriage. Hugh wished Max and Greg a union as strong and lengthy as his own. That was a stamp of approval that Max never expected and it made their Wedding day extra special.
In Max’s own words : Goodbye Hugh: I never called you Dad but in many ways you were just that. I love you and I will miss you.
Paul’s Favorite memory of Hugh is the day that he came over to our house, by himself, a few days after we were engaged. Hugh gave his blessing to our upcoming marriage and welcomed Paul to the family. A special moment.
Corinne’s fondest memories is her love of cards and what it means to her.
At a young age Corinne loved watching, learning and playing with Grandma, Grandad and Dad – playing whist, crib and hearts.
Looking back through the years from childhood to adulthood, Corinne felt that what she was taught at a young age was the stepping stone to who she is today – Corinne was taught by Dad that achieving a personal goal helped to develop in her a higher level of integrity, values and self-esteem.
Corinne is filled with gratitude and love of what she has learned from Dad – her competetiveness, fairness, learning from her mistakes and aspirations to achieve personal goals that she sets for herself to the high standard that she was taught.
Planning an evening to play cards was one of the highlights of Dad’s evening.
Greg’s fond memories: Hugh rekindled my love of sitting around with the people you love and playing games peppered with laughter and glee.
Going to the Fame Bodybuilding competion in 2008 is a wonderful memory for Anna. Jut the two of them – cheering him on, feeling so proud. Anna also, in early 2010, after Dad was diagnosed with Cancer – brought him to a running race. He wasn’t able to run but he watched Anna run her race and he saw all his running buddies from the West Island Circuit. A moment never to be forgotten.
To me, Maureen has been an inspiration through this battle. Over the last 20 months she has inspired me with her strength, determination, tenancity for not giving up, researching and searching for remedies to help her husband, her countless protein milkshakes, positivity, but most of all her unconditional love that she showed to her dear Husband, Hugh. May we all show unconditional love to our own loved ones.
God bless you Mom.
As I come to a close, – I hope that I have shown to you, in a small way, who our Father is and what he meant to us. Dad was a loving, warm, unassuming quiet man. Choosing to care for him at home, during his illness and especially the last few weeks was our way of honouring the husband and father that he was. We will always remember one of his last few words to all of us a week ago – that he had 6 wonderful children. I am filled with gratitude and I feel blessed. He is now in God’s hands. He will always be remembered in my heart and soul.
What I do know is that with the love and support of good friends and family the grief that we all feel will press less heavily over time. I love you Daddy!!