Don Maris

A photo of Don Maris

Donald James Maris of Merlin passed away peacefully at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance on Tuesday March 19, 2024.  Born to the late Watson & Isabella (Pratt) Maris 92 years ago, Don was the last surviving member of his family.  He was predeceased by his siblings Thomas Maris (1922), Oliver Maris (1926), Watson Maris (1931), Margery Keast (1965), William Maris (2011) and Muriel Dale (2017).   He will be remembered by many nieces and nephews.

Don’s working career was spent at Southwestern Regional Centre where he retired as a Residential Supervisor.  He enjoyed real estate speculation and acquiring antique furniture for his home.  He was happy to remain independent and at home.  His wishes for this time were to be cremated and laid to rest with his mother, and that his family and friends remember him on their own.  If you would like to make a memorial donation in memory of him, he would have deemed the Chatham-Kent Hospice a noble cause.

Douglas Herbert Smith

A photo of Douglas Herbert Smith

Doug departed this world from Franklin Gardens in Leamington on March 15, 2024 – the Ides of March. He was 70 years old.  Doug was the son of the late John and Flossie (Russell) Smith and brother of Rusty (Jean), Sally (Bob Cook), Randy (late Isla May), George (Mary Jane), Sherry (late Adam Godfrey) and Paul.

Doug’s life was colourful – never dull.  He loved his dogs, boats and Chevy Caprices. Doug was an accomplished salesman, selling everything from potatoes to Christmas trees, tropical plants to citrus fruit. He knew the backroads of Southern Ontario well, always arriving with a trunkful of cheer. (if only he had marketed those beer sock coolies…)

Dr Moncur and all the staff of Franklin Gardens became Doug’s friends and no matter what mischief or chaos he put them through they provided for him always. “Doug is part of our family”. They accepted and cared for him with patience, humour and grace.

Everyone who knew Doug will have their own favourite memory to reflect upon. As his long time friend, Janet Bellamy said Doug is likely with his best friend Wayne driving the cosmic highways and byways.

Doug’s family offers their heartfelt thanks to Janet Bellamy. Her dedication to keeping Doug’s affairs in order was a difficult task that she managed so very well. Her unwavering friendship toward Doug meant so very much to everyone.

Cremation has taken place and the family will remember Doug in private.

Steve Hibbert

A photo of Steve Hibbert


Celebration of Life - Willow Ridge
Sunday April 7, 2024
1:00pm - 4:00pm

 With his adoring family by his side, Steve passed away peacefully at home on Saturday March 16 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. 

 Born March 12, 1956, to the late George and Elizabeth (Betty) Hibbert, Steve leaves behind his wife, soul mate and business partner, Wendie, children Aaron Hibbert, Cory Hibbert (Jessica), Nicole Hibbert, Sean Stafford (Sarah), Casie Nurse (Brent). A proud grandfather (Bumpa) of twelve grandchildren Braden, Bhrett, Broc, Brooklyn, Gavin, Jayla, Chloe, Bella, Blakely, Tenley, Avery and his Brinboo (Brinley).

Steve was born to humble, yet loving beginnings as the eldest of five children. He will be greatly missed by his siblings whom he adored, Brian Hibbert (Jacqueline), Bill Hibbert (Kathy), Doug Hibbert (Fran) and Beth Cartlidge (Paul). Sadly missed and fondly remembered by in-laws Jean Walker and Eric Baldwin, Laurie Bearss (Mike), Julie Tanguay (Rob).

 Steve was a “larger-than-life” character, never to be forgotten by all that came to know him. Not only large in stature, he had the personality to match. Steve was the epitome of “work hard, play hard”. He loved working, and loved a good time with family, friends, and business associates — many who became lifelong friends. He started working from a young age which led him to the trucking industry. In 2007, Steve and Wendie acquired SM Freight Inc. in Blenheim, ON. Over the last 17 years, Steve, as the CEO, poured his heart and soul into growing and leading a profitable and respected trucking company, employing just under 100 employees. In April of 2023 it was sold to a multi-national, public company. Knowing he would always need something to stay busy, Steve and Wendie also developed a commercial real estate and warehousing business in Blenheim, ON, (Graham Street Warehousing Inc)., that continues today.

In 2007 Steve and his wife Wendie settled in the community of Rondeau Bay Est., and it wasn’t long before Steve became the self-appointed “Mayor”. He loved his neighborhood (The Hood) and the neighbors. He held the position of the Vice-President of the community’s Association to this day. He never did anything by half measure and the bigger the equipment to get the job done, the better. He had a passion for anything and everything involving trucking, farming and equipment. His method of teaching and leading was “watch me” — never asking anyone to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself. Anyone who truly got to know Steve knew his bark was worse than his bite. He had a soft spot for kids and supported many local sporting and youth programs in the area, never saying no to anyone who came knocking for a donation small or large. 

Steve and Wendie enjoyed many years RV’ing with friends in the summer while spending time in the winter months in North Ft. Myers FL, where he also became a notable figure and member of the local community’s “Garage Guys”. He made friends wherever he went. He enjoyed golfing and provided many of his friends with some good laughs on the course. There was never a dull moment when Steve was around.

Finally, Steve loved his family and was always there to support them. His passion for equipment and trucking has been passed down to his children; four of whom remain in the industry today. 

Steve was not ready to go as he had much left he wanted to do. He fought very hard to beat his cancer in the hopes of achieving more goals and being able to enjoy his hard-earned retirement with Wendie, and tour North America in their RV. When it became evident no more could be done to ensure a quality of life, without spending most of the time in treatment, in true Steve fashion, he took control, no longer allowing his cancer to dictate his final days. 

“Call a spade a spade” was another term he lived by which is exactly what he did. Fortunately for Steve, he passed away very peacefully without the need for further medical intervention although he was grateful it was available. The family would like to thank Nurse Practitioner Willi Kirenko, who made Steve feel so comfortable and at peace in his final days and, although MAID was not required in the end, she made herself available to the family and was there to help guide and support, as well Blenheim Community Funeral Home for their care and guidance. Thank you to all those who took the time to message Steve in his final days, he enjoyed them immensely. They were incredibly moving, funny, loving and will help to heal our broken hearts.

There are no words to describe the heartbreak we are experiencing. There will never be another quite like our Big Guy. Rest easy Big Steve, SG, Boss-Man. We’ll take it from here. Keep your stick on the ice! 

Cremation has taken place and Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday April 7, 2024, from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at Willow Ridge Golf & Country Club, 439 Chatham St S, Blenheim ON.  Words of remembrance and a toast at 2:00pm.

The family asks those who wish to make a donation in honor of Steve, to please consider the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Foundation or Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwestern Ontario.  Online condolences may be left at 

Barry Meredith

A photo of Barry Meredith


Wednesday March 20, 2024
2-4pm & 6-8pm

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing away of Barry Meredith who left this earthly world on March 12, 2024 at the age of 50. May he be remembered as a father, son, brother, and friend with many cherished memories that you will never forget. He was the middle son of Alfred ‘ Sly’ Meredith (Claudette) and the late Elizabeth ‘BJ’ (Kelly). Loving father of Chassidy, Jamieson, and Knox. Brother of Dan and Vern Meredith.
A visitation will be held at the Blenheim Community Funeral Home, 60 Stanley St. in Blenheim on Wednesday March 20, 2024 from 2:00pm until 4:00pm and 6:00pm until 8:00pm. Cremation will follow with a private family interment at Evergreen Cemetery. Those wishing to make a memorial donation in remembrance of Barry to the Chatham-Kent Hospice would be appreciated. Online condolences may be left at

A tribute to Barry may be viewed by clicking the following link:

Joan Dulong

A photo of Joan Dulong

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our loving mom, Joan Louise Dulong. She passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on March 8, 2024. Born in Kitchener on June 16, 1941, daughter of the late Dr. Joseph A. and Elva (Bolton) Spellman. Loving wife of the late Robert (Bob) Dulong for nearly 60 years. Proud, supportive and loving Mother to Delynne (Tim Clark), Michelle (John
Cummings) and Bobby (Andrea Dulong). Amazing Grandmother to Josselynne (Jason) Segeren, Jennifer Clark (David Dowker), Scott Cummings, Joel Cummings (Maaike Bloomfield), Tyler Dulong (Taylor Manaigre), Trevor Dulong, and Alexis Dulong. Great grandmother to Emma Segeren, Nathan Guy, Nicholas Guy and predeceased by Sydney Guy.

Mom enjoyed many great times with her three sisters, Carolyn Fedy, Helen Hamblin, and Connie
Birmingham and their families. Sister-in-law to Charlene (Paul) Germuska and beloved aunt to many nieces and nephews.

Mom was a teacher at St. Mary’s School for many years and enjoyed volunteering at St. Mary’s Hall with the Catholic Women’s League. Some of her favorite hobbies included golf, knitting, and gardening. She loved being part of a bridge club with wonderful friends for over 50 years. Mom enjoyed vacations with the whole family to Fern Resort and travelling the world with dad, visiting many different countries.

A private funeral will be held with immediate family. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Erie St. Clair Home and Community Care Support Services (VON) at 180 Riverview Drive, Chatham, ON, who provided exceptional assistance to us in Mom’s final weeks.

Joan Emerson

A photo of Joan Emerson

Shirley Joanne “Joan” Emerson passed away at the Blenheim Community Village on Tuesday March 5, 2024, at 90 years of age. Joan was the only child of the late Andy & Irene Bolus.  In 1954 she married her best friend Alvin Emerson. They spent the next 62 years together until he predeceased her on March 4, 2016.

Joan and Al raised two daughters who they were very proud of; Debbie Emerson and Janet Rastin (Scott).  Their family grew to include their grandchildren Christian Rastin (Melissa) and Patricia MacNaughton (Ian) and great-grandchildren Riley, Hailey, Victoria and  Alvin.

She was a member of the Blenheim Legion and a Past President of the Blenheim Seniors Centre.  In her spare time she enjoyed bowling, knitting and crocheting.

Cremation has taken place.  Joan’s family will remember her privately.  Her urn will be placed with Al’s in Evergreen Cemetery at a later date.

Friends wishing to remember Joan with a memorial donation are asked to consider the Blenheim Legion Poppy Fund or the Blenheim Seniors Centre.

Susan Girard

A photo of Susan Girard


Blenheim Community Funeral Home
Thursday March 7, 2024
1:00 p.m.

Susan Mirriam Girard of Blenheim passed away at home on Monday March 4, 2024.  She was 93 years young.  Originally from Hearst, Ontario, Susan and her late husband Ron moved to Blenheim in their retirement years.  She was an avid swimmer, gardener, seamstress and knitter.  She spent many hours sewing dresses for children and knitting hats, mitts and socks for people who needed them.  She had a great sense of humor and was always fun to be around.  In her own words, she was “fit as a fiddle and twice as sassy”!  She was looking forward to getting outside to tend to her yard this summer and was excited to see that her perennial flowers were already up in February.

Susan will be missed by her sisters in law Dorothy Leger and Debra Vaillancourt, their families, and the many friends she has made far and wide in her lifetime.

A Funeral Service for Susan will take place at the Blenheim Community Funeral Home on Thursday March 7, 2024 at 1:00 with Rev. Wanda Winfield officiating.  Cremation will follow.  Susan and Ron’s ashes will eventually be scattered at their favourite fishing spot.

Friends wishing to remember Susan with a memorial donation are asked to consider Operation Smile

Colleen Buchan

A photo of Colleen Buchan

Colleen Buchan of Merlin passed away on February 27, 2024 at the age of 89 years.  She will be reunited with her beloved husband Royce (2007) and will be lovingly remembered by her children Judy & Lenny Phelan, Rudy & Deb Buchan, Jim Buchan, Kim Urquhart (2021) and Kelly Buchan, by her grandchildren Michelle & Justin, Jeff & Jill, Brandie, Laura & Rob, Melissa & Jeff, Khloe & Mitch, Aubree & Jesse and Logan, her great-grandchildren Madison, Megan, Alley, Macie, Brooklyn, Jake and Nate as well as her great-great grandchildren Aria, Nash and Iylah.

Colleen was the daughter of the late Mary Jane & Archie Carr and sister of the late Betty & Ozzie Suitor.  She is survived by her sister-in-law Rose Carr and brother-in-law Bob Gobert.  She spent her working career at Southwestern Regional Centre, retiring in 1999 as a Facility Supervisor.  She had a soft spot in her heart for dogs and cats, she enjoyed crocheting, making crafts for vendor markets and shopping.  She and Royce enjoyed boating in the summer and trips to Florida in the winter.  She was a proud grandmother who always had a story or two ready to share about her grandchildren’s lives.  She appreciated her neighbours and her long-time friends that she made over the years and visiting the Merlin Friendship Club.

Colleen’s family will gather privately at the Merlin Cemetery where she will be laid to rest next to Royce.

Bob Wilton

A photo of Bob Wilton

Robert Morden Wilton passed away at the Chatham-Kent Hospice on Friday February 23, 2024.  Born 78 years ago to the late Harold & Barb Wilton, Bob was loved beyond measure by his wife Georgina, his daughter Carolyn Bernardo (Philip), his grandchildren Christopher Hudson (Stephanie), Nicole Bernardo (Josh Houston), Dillon Bernardo, Danielle Bernardo (Kyle McCann), Lora Spence (Frank) and his great grandchildren Bentley, Olivia and Charlotte.

He was one of six children and will be missed by his sisters Janet Veres, Elizabeth Robitaille (Mark) and by his brothers Brian Wilton (Elise) and Bev Wilton (Penny).  He was predeceased by his brother Rick Wilton (Ira Jane) and brothers-in-law Tim Veres and Don Robitaille.  He will also be missed by Georgina’s family Cathy Stevens (Steve) and Marion Wiles, by many nieces and nephews and by his favourite feline companion Cinnamon.

After meeting at a party in London, Bob and Georgina began a journey that lasted almost fifty years when they married on October 12, 1974.  The last thirty of those years were in Blenheim where they moved to be closer to his family in 1994.  Bob was an avid outdoorsman who loved fishing whenever and wherever he could.  He built his own mountain bike and enjoyed many riding trails including the old railroad tracks that took him from Blenheim to Highgate.  Bob maintained many lasting friendships through his extensive travels for his work in the environmental and recycling industry.

Bob’s most treasured gift in life was his family.  He enjoyed every minute he spent being a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and brother.  His lifetime was spent appreciating and protecting the environment so that his grandchildren and great-grandchildren would be able to enjoy the same beauty of the world that he was able to enjoy himself.

As Henry Ford once said “the only true test of values, either of men or of things, is that of their ability to make the world a better place in which to live”.  That was Bob…his desire and purpose in life was to leave the world a better place than he found it.

Our family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the many friends and neighbours whose kindness over the last few months will never be forgotten.  To Jodi, Nicole and nurses Mary Beth and Shari who helped with Bob’s medical and day to day needs…you were a blessing.  And finally, to his brother Bev and sister-in-law Cathy…we are humbled by your dedication and commitment to Bob during his illness and especially in these past few weeks.

Although we will celebrate Bob’s life and his accomplishments in the future, we will honour his wish now to remember him privately and quietly.

Friends and family wishing to remember Bob with a memorial donation are asked to consider the Chatham-Kent Hospice

Gail Eskritt

A photo of Gail Eskritt


Glad Tidings Community Church
403 Chatham Street South, Blenheim
Thursday February 8, 2024 at 2:00 p.m.
Reception to follow at Willow Ridge
Golf & Country Club


Glad Tidings Community Church
403 Chatham Street South, Blenheim
Thursday February 8, 2024
12:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Dear Friends and Family,

It is with a deep sense of sorrow and loss that our family announces the passing of our mother, grandmother, wife, sister, aunt and daughter Gail Elizabeth (VanSickle) Eskritt at home on Saturday February 3, 2024.  Knowing that her time was near, our entire family gathered around her bed to watch her favourite movie “The Great Outdoors” and listen to Christmas songs because Christmas was Gail’s favourite time of year.  We held her hand and told her how much she meant to each of us, how much we loved her and how much we will miss her, because we did and we will.

Gail was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago.  She underwent every chemo and radiation treatment that she could so she could get better.  They say that if you make it for five years, you’re a survivor.  Gail did almost that, but on March 1, 2022 she found out that the cancer had returned and she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.  For the next 704 days she would struggle, not to get better, but to stay strong enough that we could have one more day with her.

She will be profoundly missed by our children Lynn & Rachel, Darrell & Anna and Makaila, by our grandchildren Lucas, Graham and Clara, and our chosen son Marcel & Chantelle.  She will also be missed by her brothers Jeff & Janet and John & Brenda, her Eskritt in-laws Al & Shelley, Jennifer, Roberta & Gaetan, Barb & Denis and Marvin & Kim and by her many nieces, nephews and friends.  She was predeceased by her parents Leo & Melba.

The story about the girl from Dresden who met the boy from Ridgetown at Funeral Director School in Toronto started 43 years ago on January 24, 1981 when we got married.  There have been many interesting chapters for sure.  The next chapter will teach us how to accept that things will never go back to how they used to be, and that this ending is really a new beginning.  Our story will continue through our children and their children.  It will be great.

Please join us at Glad Tidings Church on Thursday February 8, 2024 for visitation from 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.  A Funeral Service conducted by a long-time friend Terry Tribe will take place at 2:00.  Following the service, the immediate family will take Gail to her final place of rest in Evergreen Cemetery.  It was most important to Gail that everybody have something to eat and drink so you are all invited to go to the Willow Ridge Golf & Country Club next to the church and we will meet you when we get back.

During the past seven years, Gail spent an incredible amount of time travelling to doctors appointments outside Blenheim.  She thought that the new Blenheim Medical Health Hub was the best thing that could happen for our community.  If you would like to remember her with a memorial donation, please consider the initiative to bring health care closer to home.  Online donations can be made at

Marc Eskritt