Obituaries

James VanNeck

A photo of James VanNeck

Service:

Private

Visitation:

Private

James Leon VanNeck, born June 21,1935 passed away peacefully on July 27, 2016. He was predeceased by his parents Leon VanNeck (2001) and Irene VanNeck (nee Nourse)(2000). He is survived by his brother Gary (Charlotte) VanNeck and sister Barb (Duncan) O’Brien, his wife Joan VanNeck (nee St. Peter), his two sons Chris (Jennifer) VanNeck and Darren (Cathy) VanNeck and many nieces and nephews. But who he will miss the most are his grandchildren, his pride and joys, Ryleigh, Hayden, Quin, Kees, Noah and Blake.

Jim (aka Diamond Jim) started working on the Dyke Road family farm and then with his Dad, started Leon VanNeck and Son Ltd, a small construction company to keep them busy in the wintertime. With a strong work ethic and a golden rule business practice, before they knew it, they went from building barns to custom homes to multimillion dollar commercial jobs. Including such local structures as the Chatham Women’s Center (also sat on the board), Residence on the Thames (where he ultimately spent the last five years of his life), the Blenheim Fire Hall, Blenheim Retirement Village and one of his favourites, the Blenheim Memorial Arena.

Family was most important with Jim, but when not with them, his community was next. He was a long time member of the Shriners, the Golden Acres Curling Club (past president), Blades Executive member and also a founding member of the Morpeth Oldtimers. When not supporting his two sons many endeavours he enjoyed many years of sailing.

The family cannot thank the staff of Riverview Gardens and Residence on the Thames enough for their above and beyond the call of duty care for Dad.

As per his wishes, there will a private family service in Blenheim on Saturday. We ask that if you wish to make a donation in his honour, that you support his favourite charity, the Shriners Children’s Hospital.

Ray Gardiner

A photo of Ray Gardiner

Service:

Blenheim Community Funeral Home
Wednesday July 20, 2016
11:00 a.m.

Visitation:

Blenheim Community Funeral Home
Tuesday July 19, 2016
2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Ray Gardiner of Blenheim passed away on Saturday July 16, 2016 at the age of 50 years. Much loved husband of Kim Gardiner, son of Sue & Charlie Gardiner, brother & brother-in-law of Annette & Mark Lucio, Bill & Jen Gardiner and Stephen & Paula Campbell. He will be missed by his nieces and nephews Vanessa Lucio and her daughter Tegan, Bill Gardiner Jr and his children Pheobe and Owen, Kate Gardiner, Aiden Campbell and Erin McDonald as well as his mother-in-law Reta Campbell & Don Markwick.

To know Ray meant that you knew he loved his family and his close circle of friends. He would do anything for them and was always there if they needed assistance with anything. Ray’s true love, besides his wife Kim, was his love and passion for his fur babies. He would act sometimes gruff with them but the next minute he was petting and sharing his love with them. He will be missed by Mocha, Curly, Shemp & Joe.

Ray’s other passion was watching and cheering the Toronto Blue Jays, he had a wonderful time this spring when he and Kim attended a Jays game and cheered on the boys in blue. He also loved the Toronto Maple Leafs and was always hopeful of a playoff run and a Stanley Cup. He was always boastful that he was alive when they last won the cup. Ray attended Fanshawe College to take the photography course and you could always see Ray with a camera in his hand. While he never got rich doing it, he was very happy to take any family or friend’s wedding or special occasions photos.

Ray will be missed. The world has lost a great person with a huge heart and a warm smile.  The Lord has now welcomed him into His house.

Friends are invited to the Blenheim Community Funeral Home where visitation will take place on Tuesday from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. A Funeral Service for Ray will be held on Wednesday July 20, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. with Pastor Bill Terris officiating.  Cremation to follow.  Friends wishing to remember Ray with a memorial donation are asked to consider either the Diabetes Association or the Kidney Foundation.

Karl Leach

A photo of Karl Leach

Service:

Blenheim Community Funeral Home
Thursday July 14, 2016
2:00 p.m.

Visitation:

Blenheim Community Funeral Home
Thursday July 14, 2016
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Karl Leach, much loved husband of Marlene (Burse) Leach and father of Delve Leach (Lorene Dodman) passed away on Sunday July 10, 2016 at the age of 72 years. Born in Petrolia, Karl was the son of the late Hazel & Clarence Leach. He is survived by his siblings Edna Kucera (Martin), Ruth Rumble and Ivan Leach (Marilyn). He was predeceased in life by his sister Audrey Kominek.

Karl loved the time he spent outdoors, whether it was fishing, golfing, camping or simply going for a drive. He worked for 30 years in the dietary department at Southwestern Regional Centre, retiring as a Chef Manager in 1994.

In keeping with Karl’s wishes, cremation has taken place. Friends and family are invited to gather at the Blenheim Community Funeral Home on Thursday July 14, 2016 where visitation will be held from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. A Memorial Service conducted by Pastor Eric Skillings will take place following the visitation at 2:00 p.m. Friends wishing to remember Karl with a memorial donation are asked to consider a charity of your choice.

Irene Rakus

A photo of Irene Rakus

Service:

Private family service.

Visitation:

Blenheim Community Funeral Home
Tuesday July 12, 2016
2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Irene Marie Rakus, dear wife of the late Louis Paul Rakus passed away on Saturday July 9, 2016. Irene is the much loved mother of Richard & Sheryl Rakus of Caledon and Colleen & Marshall Bates of Chatham.  She will be missed by her granddaughters Stephanie and Katherine of Toronto, her sisters-in-law Dorothy DeWispelaere of Blenheim, Dorothy Rakus of Thorold and several nieces and nephews.  She is predeceased by her parents Henri & Pharailda DeWispelaere, by her brothers and sisters-in-law Lorne & Yvonne DeWispelaere, Lucien DeWispelaere and by Louis’ family Ben & Mary Rakus, Frank Rakus and Don & Beatrice Rakus. Family and friends are invited to the Blenheim Community Funeral Home on Tuesday July 12, 2016 for visitation from 2 – 4 p.m.  A private family service will be held on Wednesday.    Friends wishing to remember Irene with a memorial donation are asked to consider the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

Tom Rance

A photo of Tom Rance

Service:

Private

Visitation:

Private

Tom Rance of Blenheim passed away at home on Wednesday July 6, 2016 at the age of 67 years. Tom will be forever missed by his wife Brenda (Jubenville) Rance, by his sons Greg & Terri Rance of London and Scott Rance of Blenheim and by his brother Mark & Pearl Rance of Cincinnati. He was predeceased by his parents Thomas & Marjorie (Snow) Rance and his brother John Rance. Tom was raised in Blenheim, attending WJ Baird Public School and Blenheim District High School. As a young man he wanted to be a disc jockey, so after High School he moved to Toronto and received his degree from the Career Academy. However, the desire to live in his hometown brought him back to Blenheim where he began working for CIBC in Chatham and Dresden. In 1972 Tom was offered a job that he loved at Navistar in Chatham and he worked there until his retirement in 2009. Much of his time since then was spent in his back yard where he was a natural in landscaping and tending to the koi in his pond.

Tom’s wish was to be remembered privately by his family. Blenheim Community Funeral Home entrusted with funeral arrangements. Friends wishing to remember him with a memorial donation are asked to consider the Cancer Society. Online condolences for the family and memorial donations can be left at www.blenheimcommunityfuneralhome.com

Connie Sadler

A photo of Connie Sadler

Service:

Wednesday July 6, 2016
2:00 p.m.

Visitation:

Wednesday July 6, 2016
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Constance (Connie) Irene Sadler of Chatham and formerly of Blenheim passed away on Friday July 1, 2016. Connie was born in Nottingham England on September 27, 1921; the eldest child of Albert & Mabel Whitehead. In 1975 she and her husband Alfred Sadler immigrated to Canada. After 57 years of marriage, Alfred predeceased Connie in 2003. They were the proud parents of their daughters Glenise Milward-Robinson (Colin), Jennifer Schell (Mark) and their son Stephen Sadler (Laurie). She was blessed in life with seven grandchildren; Amanda, Paul & Nicole, James & Lisa, Michael & Jill, Noelle, Lindsey and the late Andrew Milward (2001) and further blessed with two great-grandchildren Madelyn and Oliver. She was predeceased by her son-in-law Denis Milward (2006). Connie will be missed by her special friend Bonnie Smith.

Family and friends are invited to the Blenheim Community Funeral Home on Wednesday July 6, 2016 where visitation will take place from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. followed by a Funeral Service at 2:00 p.m. Interment in Evergreen Cemetery.

Friends wishing to remember Connie with a memorial donation are asked to consider a charity of your choice.

Melba VanSickle

A photo of Melba VanSickle

Service:

Private

Visitation:

Private

Melba (Fox) VanSickle of Dresden passed away at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance on Friday June 24, 2016. Melba was the only daughter of the late Willis & Gertrude (Ball) Fox and lived her life in the Dresden area with her husband Leo VanSickle to whom she would have been married for 63 years this coming September. Melba and Leo raised three children; Jeff & Janet VanSickle of Chatham, Gail & Marc Eskritt of Blenheim and John & Brenda VanSickle of Florida. They are the proud grandparents of John, Shawn, Lynn & Rachel, Darrell & Anna, Makaila, Shelby and Lily. Great-grandmother of Lucas and Graham.  For a time, Melba was a Switchboard Operator for Bell in Wallaceburg but stopped working to take care of her mother. She and Leo farmed together outside of Dresden. She will be remembered by many nieces, nephews and cousins. Melba’s wish was that her funeral arrangements would be a time shared by her family. She will be laid to rest with her parents in Dresden. Blenheim Community Funeral Home entrusted with funeral arrangements. Friends wishing to remember her with a memorial donation are asked to consider the Salvation Army.

Ron Girard

A photo of Ron Girard

Service:

Blenheim United Church
Monday June 20, 2016
11:00 a.m.

Visitation:

Blenheim Community Funeral Home
Sunday June 19, 2016
2:00 - 4:00 & 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Ronald Willis Girard of Blenheim and formerly of Hearst, Ontario passed away in the arms of his loving best friend and wife Susan on Friday June 17, 2016. Ron was born in Hearst 83 years ago to his late parents Willis and Ivy Girard. He grew up with three sisters and is survived by Dorothy Leger and Debora Vaillancourt (Reg) and by his brother in law Albert Lahde all of Hearst. Also survived by many nieces and nephews.  Ron was predeceased by his sister Sylvia Lahde. Ron was an electrician by trade and worked as a manager at a large mill in Hearst that produced wooden products. Following his retirement, he and Susan moved to Blenheim. He was a quiet man who was content to sit and appreciate the world that surrounded him, he was a gentleman who was quick to offer his help to those in need and he was not only a husband but he shared a connection with Susan that was very strong. Friends and family are invited to visitation at the Blenheim Community Funeral Home on Sunday from 2 – 4 & 7 – 9 p.m. A Funeral Service for Ron will be held in the Blenheim United Church on Monday June 20, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. Cremation to follow.   Friends wishing to remember Ron with a memorial donation are asked to consider the Cancer Society or the O.S.P.C.A.

Ralph Thomas

A photo of Ralph Thomas

Service:

Blenheim Community Funeral Home
Saturday June 25, 2016
11:00 a.m.

Visitation:

Blenheim Community Funeral Home
Saturday June 25, 2016

Masonic Lodge Service: 9:45 - 10:00 a.m.
Visitation: 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Ralph Thomas of Cedar Springs and formerly of Erieau passed away on Saturday June 11, 2016. Ralph was born in Garfield Heights 66 years ago to the late Ruth & Ralph Thomas. He is survived by his wife of 48 years Dawne (Schroeder) Thomas, his son Sean Thomas and his daughter Shannon Thomas & Mike. He was the proud Papa of Bella and Taylor and Grandpa to Dalton and McKenna. Ralph was one of 9 siblings and is survived by Roger & Sandy Thomas, Ruthann Engle, James Thomas, Larry & Leslie Thomas, Darlene Thomas, Rusty Griffith, Debbie & Steve Brown and Kenny & Diane Thomas. He is also survived by his step-mother Shirley Gay, his step-father Earl Woodhull and sisters in law Dyanne Srokosz and Doree Schroeder.

Ralph was proud to be a decorated Vietnam Veteran. It was before his tour that he married Dawne and they began their family. Soon they moved to Erieau when Ralph took a position with International Harvester. Being a skilled carpenter, Ralph eventually ran his own construction company Thomas Home Improvement Services. He enjoyed his time as a Mason, being Past Master of the Kent Lodge #274 AF & AM in Blenheim. Although he wore many hats in his life, Ralph was happiest spending time with his family.

In keeping with Ralph’s wishes, cremation has taken place. A Celebration of Life will be held at the Blenheim Community Funeral Home on Saturday June 25, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. Prior to the service, there will be Masonic Lodge service at 9:45 a.m and a time for visitation between 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

.Friends wishing to remember Ralph with a memorial donation are asked to consider Pet Rescue or the Masonic Lodge in Blenheim. Condolences for the family and memorial donations may be left online at www.blenheimcommunityfuneralhome.com

Matthew Knott

A photo of Matthew Knott

Service:

Blenheim Community Funeral Home
Friday July 8, 2016
2:00 p.m.

Matthew Knott passed away unexpectedly at his home in Courtney B.C. on June 8, 2016. Born in Chatham on September 7, 1963, Matthew is the son of Murray and the late Helen Knott. He will always remain in the hearts of his sisters Dixie & Delbert Jackson, Diane & Ivan Bonnell and Darlene Knott, his brothers Mike Knott and Mark Knott, his nieces and nephews Taylor, Madison, Hailey, Isaac, Monique & Eddie, Megan & Simon, Rygel & Aliece, Jolynne and great nieces and nephews Bradley, Cassidy, Noah, Dakota, Christopher, Nyssal, Cahira and the late Alexander. Matthew will also be missed by his extended family and friends. Matthew grew up in Blenheim and attended W.J. Baird Public School and Blenheim District High School. Following his High School graduation he attended Kings College in Toronto where he became a diver, a job that he enjoyed working at for almost 30 years.

A service for Matthew will be held at the Blenheim Community Funeral Home on Friday July 8, 2016 at 2:00 p.m.. Online condolences for Matthews’s family may be left at www.blenheimcommunityfuneralhome.com