Doreen Isabelle Bennett
February 28, 1926 – September 1, 2021
On September 1st 2021, Doreen, a bright light, passed away peacefully with family at her bedside and while listening to Frank Sinatra serenading her to ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ and the soothing voice of Renee Fleming’s ‘Ava Maria’.
Doreen was born in Toronto in 1926 to William and Ruth Amelia Sutton (née Smith) and attended Parkdale Collegiate from 1939 to 1942. She was part of a large family, the 6th of eight children (Bill, Beatrice, Kathleen, Celia, Ruby, Phyllis, Thomas), and was a naturally talented musician and aspiring opera singer. As a student of opera, Doreen was known by her stage name “Barbara Kerr” to her fellow singers and dreamt of one day performing at the Met.
After leaving Parkdale Collegiate, she joined Bell Canada where she had a wonderful career as a young woman in the 1940’s. A modern working woman ahead of her time, when Doreen was not working she was leading an active social life that included dancing, ski trips to the Quebec Laurentians, a memorable trip to the Bahamas, as well as many weekend getaways with her girlfriends before ‘girl trips’ were even a thing.
She also volunteered at local Toronto hospitals and would speak fondly of her time helping with the babies and older patients alike.
At the age of 31, Doreen met the love of her life, John Charles Bennett, the ‘cute English gentleman’ who fell in love with her voice. After a whirlwind engagement they were married just six months later and fourteen months later in were blessed with the birth of their first son, John Douglas. Doreen took on the role of mother and spouse with great joy and learned to cook, eventually becoming a wonderful chef and baker known especially for her pies. She learned to cook with careful instruction from her husband John “Apply heat, if it doesn’t burn it cooks”.
Shortly thereafter, Doreen moved with her husband John and young family from Toronto to Boucherville, Quebec where she welcomed three additional babies, Thomas Hedley, Ellen Ruth and Kathleen Elizabeth.
In her young family’s early years, Doreen (aka ‘Do’ to many) volunteered as the school librarian at the Boucherville Elementary School, was a Girl Guide Leader and Commissioner, an active member of the school’s parent’s committee, all while being a wonderful wife, mother and friend.
Somehow, Doreen also found time to sing with the Boucherville Lyric Society and St. Lambert Operatic Society, as well as with the acclaimed Montreal Elgar Choir, enjoying many performances of Handel’s Messiah among other great choral works.
With four very active children, Doreen (understandably) looked forward to ‘back-to-school’ as much as most parents today.
When her children were older, Doreen returned to work and, always a great lover of books, was overjoyed to work at the Diocesan Book Room in downtown Montreal as their bookkeeper. There she remained until the age of 67, enjoying her working life that afforded her weekly trips to the hair salon and the ability to always dress in style.
In retirement, when she was not bowling with her friends in Boucherville, or meeting for coffee, Doreen could be found on her patio watching birds and enjoying her English garden. Doreen also enjoyed her time with her much loved grandchildren Emily, Eric, Jill, Austin, Ariane, Michael, Sarah, Joel, Paul and Jacqueline.
More recently, Doreen and John returned to Toronto and enjoyed living downtown at the Manulife Centre where they continued to live independently for 6 years.
In March of 2021, following a fall, Doreen moved into the Belmont House.
Doreen leaves behind the love of her life and husband of 64 years, John Charles Bennett of Toronto, her four children John (Heather Bennett) of Clarksburg, Thomas of Montreal, Ellen (Daniel Laskowitz) of Chapel Hill, NC, Kathleen (Michael Bracken) of Toronto, as well as ten grandchildren Emily, Eric & Jill Bennett, Austin & Ariane Cook, Sarah and Michael Laskowitz, Joel Bracken, and Paul and Jacqueline Bennett. She also leaves behind two great-grandchildren, June and Leon Bennett, her brother Thomas Sutton of Trenton as well as many nieces and nephews, godchildren, friends, neighbours, and co-workers, all of whom were touched by her bright light.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to either:
The Belmont House https://www.belmonthouse.com/foundation/donate-now/
The Canadian Opera Company https://my.coc.ca/donate/contribute2?ct=13
A private service will be held. Condolences may be forwarded through www.humphreymiles.com.
© 2021 Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel Limited. All Rights Reserved.