Obituary of Colleen Carmichael
A wonderful life began in Montreal on July 16, 1926 when Colleen Fitzpatrick was born to her dear father James Gerald, mother and best friend Bertha Ellen (Babbie) and devoted and protective older brothers Murray and Gerry. Her Westmount childhood was blissful, attending Roslyn School followed by Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s School (ECS) for high school. Days were filled with family, friends and fun. Colleen learned to ski on the Westmount hill, to play golf at Val Morin and lived an idyllic life, doted upon by all. Her first teacher and coach in all sports was her father and mentor, who set very high standards. McGill followed at a time when females were considerably outnumbered in the student ranks and Colleen was accepted, one of only 2 women, into first year Medicine. She was a proud Kappa Kappa Gamma, a leading member of the Penguin Ski Club, the McGill Ski Team and the McGill Golf team, and earned her undergraduate Arts and Science degree.
It was at McGill that Colleen met Jack. He was full of fun, had that charming smile and was so determined to win her heart that he did a victory lap year to court the beautiful Colleen. Jack succeeded and they married shortly after graduation in 1950. Love and family usurped Colleen’s dream of a career in Medicine. Their early years in Buffalo, NY starting a new business, proved challenging but exciting and led to a move to Toronto in 1952. That also marked the year of the arrival of their first born, John, on Valentine’s Day no less, followed by 4 daughters: Colleen, Patti, Julie and Jill. A busy and, at times, hectic household of 7 needed a capable and enthusiastic leader, and that was Colleen. Always a devoted mother and remarkable role model, who loved life.
Summers at West Wind, Roches Point, found Colleen in her element as “camp counsellor” and cheerleader to her crew and their friends. Boat rides on The Seven C’s, swimming, picnics at Fox Island, waterskiing, sailing, tennis and golf clinics, volleyball games and evening gatherings kept everyone, especially Colleen, busy. Winters at Lyford Cay with family and friends held so many happy memories over the years. Family dinners, no matter where, were a favourite when all gathered to share the day’s activities. Colleen’s love of music, and her amazing talent as a pianist playing by ear, filled every family time together.
A glance at the trophy cabinets in her home reveal Colleen’s prowess on the links. She was a champion golfer, winning numerous titles at Rosedale, Lyford Cay and Eastbourne, as well as Niagara on the Lake and the Manoir Richelieu, among others. Colleen was very proud of her 4 holes-in-one at Rosedale and Lyford. She was the Ladies President at Rosedale, a role she thoroughly enjoyed. Colleen was a proud member of the WIGS, SWIGS and CWSGA and the winning ladies’ teams in York District, Britain and the Caribbean.
Colleen was a loving and supportive partner to Jack. She stood proudly with him on many occasions, from business and sports to family and philanthropic endeavours. One that stood out as extraordinary was their Queen’s Plate victory of 1981, with the trophy presented by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Colleen continued this legacy with Julie, winning the Canadian Oaks in 1997.
In her very limited spare time, Colleen was a dedicated and active community volunteer, beginning with the Junior League in Montreal and Toronto. She was on the executive of the Ada Mackenzie Foundation providing support to physically challenged athletes. While her girls attended the Ursuline School, Colleen was PTA President for many years. She actively supported Jack in the founding of The Squires Club at the Wellesley Hospital (now The Squires-Hyland Trust at St. Michael’s Hospital), The Jockey Club Ball, Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation providing educational opportunities for Bahamian students, served on numerous committees of the Lyford Cay Club as a founding member and was honoured as a Dame of Malta and Patron of the Arts in The Vatican Museums.
Colleen was predeceased sadly by Jack in 1992 and their beloved daughter and her namesake, Colleen in 1980, but she soldiered on to continue to live a vibrant and full life. We celebrate and enjoy her legacy of love to her 5 children and 13 grandchildren: John (Kerry) and their children, Christin (Michael Greb), Michael (Connie) and Julie (Jan O’Driscoll); Patti (Robert Pilon) and their girls, Catharine, Elisabeth and Victoria; Julie (Dr. Brent Norton) and their children, Ivey, Jack and Carr; and Jill (Kevin Adolphe) and their children, Lauren, Nicholas, Alexander and Christopher. Colleen’s 7 great-grandchildren: John and Mackenzie Carmichael; Harrison, Jackson and Isla Greb; and Grayson and Wyatt O’Driscoll always enjoyed their special time with CC.
As a family, we were blessed to have Marie in Toronto for 27 devoted years, and Elva and Joan at Bouganvilla. We thank Ena and Gina for their compassionate care, as Colleen stoically battled her recent health challenges with strength and courage.
Colleen passed peacefully and with dignity, in her 91st year, surrounded by her loving family, on Tuesday, July 11th, 2017.
Please join us to celebrate Colleen’s wonderful life. The family will receive friends at the HUMPHREY FUNERAL HOME A.W. MILES – NEWBIGGING CHAPEL, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Davisville Avenue) from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, July 17th. Funeral Mass will take place in BLESSED SACRAMENT CHURCH, 24 Cheritan Avenue, on Tuesday, July 18th at 11:00 a.m.
If desired, in lieu of flowers, please consider giving, in Colleen's name, to The Squires-Hyland Trust at St. Michael’s Hospital or the Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation. Condolences, photographs and memories may be forwarded through www.humphreymilesnewbigging.com.
“Queen Colleen” will live on forever in our hearts. Purple reigns!
We will miss you greatly, Mom. Everything you did was with elegance, grace and style.
You were one-of-a-kind. May God bless and keep you.