Born March 31, 1961 Randy ensured that the world was a better place for persons with challenges before his death March 13, 2017 at the Temiskaming Hospital.
Randy leaves his biological mother and stepfather of Guelph, his brother and sister, his former wife Jane, his two daughters Krystal and Ashley [fiancé Matti] and his beloved grandchildren: Zachary, Chloe, Kaleb and Kayden.
Randy’s life was one of triumph over prolonged adversity. He entered foster care in 1974 for the final time in his 12th year before becoming a crown ward. This foster placement initially was to be only for two weeks prior to institutional placement in Orillia. This plan was changed due to advocacy and Randy entered into a trusting relationship that lasted almost forty-four years.
With support Randy was enrolled in College Avenue Elementary Public School in Guelph and graduated to College Heights Vocational High School. Despite profound challenges Randy persevered overcoming many obstacles caused by delayed language and physical development. While in high school for a period of four years Randy was an active member of the Guelph Army Cadets and learned many new skills. Randy graduated from Grade 12 in the vocational program and broke down educational barriers in Ontario when he was admitted to Conestoga Community College to take a 40 week general apprenticeship program which he was successful in.
During the next few years Randy lived independently, married and had two daughters while continually employed at a small business in Kitchener Waterloo that built wheelchairs. This business, InvaCare, grew and expanded to Toronto and with his driver’s licence Randy did the commute and was with the company for over 18 years. A well respected employee Randy ensured that custom wheelchairs were individually tailored for posture seating.
During this same time Randy took several vacation camping trips into Northern Ontario with his family and Randy’s love of the north was developed.
When InvaCare was sold to a USA company, downsizing took place. Randy in very early 2002 was hired by Nestle Water Canada and was a very proud employee who worked at the bottling division in Aberfoyle. During that same year Randy was diagnosed with a very rare cancer. The support of his employer and fellow employees was absolutely amazing and Randy drew great comfort from this support.
Dr Jonathan Irish [E.N.T.] at Princess Margaret did surgery in the fall of 2002. With no other viable treatment options, as a last resort Randy was referred to Dr Shereen Ezzat [Endocrinology Oncology] in February 2003 who prescribed a very new drug just introduced into Canada. The drug was a miracle and Randy with an initial prognosis of less than three months ultimately had the gift of life for another 14 years.
Randy in March of 2003 chose to move home to his foster mother Betty Stone for additional support and Dr Ezzat and Dr Peter Wozniak [Cambridge] were very actively involved in stabilizing Randy medically. Randy became well enough to walk in the Guelph Terry Fox Run for three years.
In October 2006 Randy chose to move to Haileybury with his foster mother and loved being in the North. Randy was supported medically for the past few years by the Great Northern Family Health Team specifically Dr Corbin, Rhonda and Renée. Randy volunteered for the past three years to participate in a drug trial at Princess Margaret Hospital and was supported in this by Dr Monika Karolina Krzyzanowska, Bernie Southwood, Jennifer Petronis and Joanne. Randy was so pleased to try to help others with cancer. He travelled frequently to Toronto for this and Ontario Northland bus drivers got to know him. Vital Aire ensured Randy was able to travel safely in the last few months. Bruce and Findlay’s Drug Store were incredibly supportive of Randy for the past ten years and as Randy said “they never let me down”. Many people have helped Randy to break down barriers. Some remain nameless, known only to Randy.
There were other outcomes from Randy’s life. Due to Randy’s early circumstances the Guelph Wellington Foster Parents Association was formed in 1975 and shortly after that with the assistance of the Honourable John Sweeney, [Minister M.C. S. S.] and Randy’s foster mother the Ontario Foster Parents Association was created to improve foster care services, educational opportunities and advocacy options for foster parents across the province.
As Randy in his late teens grew more independent other advocacy opportunities arose and in Guelph and provincially, supportive Associations became “Community Living Associations” that encouraged and supported the inclusionary lifestyle that Randy had already created personally for himself.
Randy loved the North and particularly his community embraced him. He enjoyed helping at Neighbourhood Café for many years. His skills at woodworking, building design, framing, wiring and plumbing were incredible and he willingly shared his skills with and for everyone. Randy always saw an opportunity in a piece of wood just as he always saw only the best in people.
There have been many people who supported Randy on a very different life path that started in 1974. Steve Bailey, his C.A.S. worker, saw the potential and believed, his teachers who enhanced his inclusion, his brothers of choice – Brian Hodgkinson [friend of 43 years], and Gregg and wife Linda, and friends Bill and Burna Gordon, Andy Rester, Wayne Stratton, Robert Grabor and Susan Peverley.
Lise and Pat Pearson have been outstanding friends to Randy along with Giselle and Ron Cyr. Bill Westcott made sure Randy got to Mike’s when the going got tough and Elaine Morissette whose gift of a quilt warmed Randy in many ways.
Randy spent considerable time with his friend John Vandermeer and loved going fishing and driving the A.T.V. or snowmobile. He especially loved going into Sunrise with John and “the gang” and being part of the group.
Randy believed that “for sure you fail if you don’t try”. Randy did not fail at life. He left the world a better place. Randy self directed his care at the hospital until unable to do so and died with great courage and dignity just before midnight Monday, March 13, 2017 with his foster mother of 43 years beside him.
Cremation has taken place. A Celebration of Life will take place at the Haileybury Heritage Museum on Saturday, May 27, 2017 at 11:00am conducted by Reverend Sherry De Jonge. We ask those who will attend to please refrain from wearing colognes, perfumes or other scented or chemical products. Randy approved of labels on things, not people therefore In Memoriam contributions may be made to Community Living Temiskaming South [cheques only] 513 Amwell Street, P.O. Box 1149, Haileybury, Ontario P0J 1K0. Condolences, contributions and memorial candles may be left at www.buffamleveille.com.