Joan Lemoine, left, with daughter Lise Schulze, reacts during ceremonies awarding her the key to the city on July 6, 2020. (Peter McCully photo)

Joan Lemoine, left, with daughter Lise Schulze, reacts during ceremonies awarding her the key to the city on July 6, 2020. (Peter McCully photo)

Beloved Parksville volunteer and friend Joan LeMoine dies

‘She touched so many and will be missed, but her memory will live in our hearts forever’

The City of Parksville has lost its most beloved volunteer.

City flags are now at half-mast, to honour the passing of Parksville resident and friend, Joan LeMoine. She died Friday in Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, with her best friend and niece by her side.

City officials issued a release, offering their sincere condolences to Joan’s family and her many friends.

“Joan Lemoine loved Parksville and cared greatly for the people of Parksville,” read the release. “She was a positive force in the world, the consummate volunteer, generous with her time and endless energy. It was just this past June that we honoured Joan with the key to the city and celebrated Joan Lemoine Day in the city.”

LeMoine raised money for many charities and causes, notably getting her head shaved for the Cops For Cancer Tour de Rock.

She received the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, the Community Ambassador Award from the City of Parksville in 2013 and the Medal of Good Citizenship in 2016.

She was also active with the Oceanside Community Safety Keeping in Touch program and the Mount Arrowsmith Branch 49 of the Royal Canadian Legion.

LeMoine received the key to the city on July 6, her 90th birthday.

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“With saddened heart we learn of Joan’s passing,” said Mayor Ed Mayne. “No one personified community spirit like Joan. She touched so many and will be missed, but her memory will live in our hearts forever. Thank you, Joan, for being my friend.”

LeMoine’s daughter, Lise Schulze, said her mother always loved community.

“I’m pretty gutted,” she said. “Mom grew up in the Muskokas on Morrison Lake and it was a rather isolated life in the non-summer time. When the cottagers would come stay on Morrison Lake, mom would have community around her again. She’s always loved community. I suspect that had something to do with her zest for making people feel worthy and seen.”

Schulze added: “Volunteering was her way of giving back to life.”

“She loved living so very dearly,” said Schulze. “Living. Joan, my amazing mother, loved living. Being alive was her favourite thing. And if she could help others feel good about being alive then by golly she’d do what ever it took. My folks moved to Parksville as three of her children were living there. Shortly after Jim and Joan arrived in Parksville, all three kids ended up leaving. But Joan and Jim found home and were determined to make their mark on Parksville. Both avid volunteers and incredibly social, they started with any position that tickled their fancy and let them meet new folks. After Dad passed, Mom threw all of her time into volunteering. Not wanting to get lost in the grief of losing the love of her life, she opted to give even more.

“And Parksville got to be the lucky recipient of her incredible life force.”

Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Kim Burden is deeply saddened by Lemoine passing.

“I knew her well, she was a great woman in our community,” said Burden, who had the opportunity to work with LeMoine when she was a chamber member.

“She will be sadly missed. We lost somebody who was deeply involved, deeply committed to her community.”

Burden said they want to organize a celebration for LeMoine’s passing and recognize her contribution to the community, though the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may limit things.

“We’re stuck with these these public health orders that prevent people from doing the right thing and I sent a note out to my chamber team this morning to see what we can do to put together some sort of a tribute for Joan because she really was an important person in our community,” said Burden. “And I know that there are a lot of people that would really like to pay their respects, me included, and it’s so difficult with not being able to gather together.”

Allison Roberts had the pleasure of meeting LeMoine when she first rode for the Tour De Rock in 2018. She was admired her unrelenting drive to raise money for Cops for Cancer, particularly Camp Goodtimes, a summer camp that provides children with cancer and their families a unique experience, providing them a special time away from the stress of coping with the disease.

“I was touched by her strong commitment to the community,” said Roberts.

“She was a force to be reckoned with when she believed in a cause. That’s one of the most admirable things about Joan. She has been consistent year after year. She had her head shaved every year. Having that personal vulnerability of being willing to shave your head, it was amazing. She rallied a lot of support for the tour.”

Roberts said they will all try to continue LeMoine’s legacy to ensure that Cops for Cancer will be supported in Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

Former Parksville Qualicum Beach MLA Michelle Stilwell said she was shocked to hear LeMoine’s passing as she just talked to her a few weeks ago.

“I have known Joan for many, many years,” said Stilwell. “Who doesn’t know Joan in the community? She was committed to the community giving up herself through volunteerism. She’s one of those people that radiated such positive energy that you couldn’t help but be drawn to her.”

Stilwell said she will always remember LeMoine’s generosity and kindness, as will Susanna Newton, executive director for the Society of Organized Services.

“Joan and her husband Jim started volunteering with SOS when they moved to Parksville in 1995,” said Newton. “Joan served on the board of directors from 1997 to 2004, serving as president, first vice president and second vice president. Joan helped with the Christmas program each year, she volunteered at special events, and was ready to step in wherever needed. Joan’s sunny disposition was reflected in her love of yellow clothing, and her enduring kindness was appreciated by all who had the pleasure of working with her. She will be greatly missed at SOS.”

— NEWS Staff

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