Suzanne Bernier:
The Growing Years
Getting Married
Dr. Bernier - Dedicated Researcher
Birthday Bliss
Leisure Time
Family and Friends
Video and Audio of Suzanne
Kind Words
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Kind Words

Suzanne impacted a lot of people. 

Suzanne's Mom (Shirley Bernier) spoke at Suzanne's funeral:

About 20 years ago Suzanne left our family home in Lachine, Quebec, to pursue her studies, then research at the NIH in Washington, DC, and then back to Canada at the University of Western Ontario.  Through daily e-mails, her weekly phone call, her trips home for Christmas and our trips to where she was, she managed to share her life with Phil and me and make us feel a part of it.  Suzanne and her brother Rob remained close although living in different cities because of work.  She was happy to take part in Rob & Tinas wedding and then delighted to be godmother to their girls Genevieve and Sophie.  She had a special place in her heart for them.  One important phone call we received was when Suzanne and Jeff called us to say they were to get married.  All very exciting!  She had found her soul mate.  I must say they have always made us feel most welcome in their home

Four years ago when we came to London for one of our visits I brought a poem to her that I had been given as I wanted her expertise as to how to frame it  she had become very good at framing pictures.  We were down in her home office and I showed her the poem  A strong woman vs a woman of strength.  Some of you may know of it.  At this point she said:  Mom, we are going to have to be strong and have strength as I have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer.   She recently told me that she had kept a copy of this with her during the first part of her treatment.

I share it with you today:

Suzanne has been a woman of strength throughout her difficult journey and a sour ce of encouragement to those who accompanied her.  She unselfishly thought of others before herself.   From peoples verbal comments, e-mails and notes we have come to realize that during the short time she has been with us Suzanne has inspired people of all ages and has made a difference in their lives.  We thank her husband Jeff for his steadfast support and understanding, Ken Regan and her extended family, her students, colleagues, and friends for their compassion and generosity of spirit.  A special thanks to all of you here today who have come to celebrate Suzannes life. 

Suzannes quotation in the McGill University yearbook the year she graduated says it all:
"One life to live, plan cautiously, take chances, fight the odds and enjoy it all."

So, with this thought and until we meet again, we say Au revoir Suzanne.

Here is what was said by Mike Lehman from UWO at Suzanne's funeral:

"On behalf of the entire department, I wish to express the sorrow and grief that we all feel with the passing of Suzanne.  She was more than a colleague and fellow faculty member  she was our friend and our inspiration.  When I first met Suzanne during my interview for the position of Chair, I asked her what she wanted to see me accomplish as chair.  She replied simply that I should lead by example, as a researcher and as a teacher.  I have tried my best to follow this advice, but Suzanne truly embodied it, not only as a researcher and teacher, but more importantly, as a human being.  Her courage and determination in the face of her illness has been an example to us all.  There are many definitions of the word, hero  we often reserve it for those who perform extraordinary feats in the face of unusual perils but to me a hero is one who perseveres in the trials and tribulations of everyday life.  Suzanne is one of my heroes, and she will continue to be an inspiration to me to as I try to do my best and have courage in all that I encounter in life."

Cheryle Seguin spoke at the funeral, and here is her tribute to Suzanne:

"Close to 10 years ago, I walked into Suzanne’s lab as a third year student with no real experience to speak of, but looking for someone to give me a chance because I was captivated with the promise of what research could accomplish. As it turned out, Suzanne had just arrived at Western, and at our first meeting she was running an experiment on the only part of the bench not covered with boxes.  Just an example of what I would later learn to be true about Suzanne: that science came first.

The professor who sent me down the hall to meet her nudged me along with the promise that this would be the perfect place for me. How right he turned out to be.

Suzanne’s many accomplishments speak for themselves. She was an Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology and cross-appointed in Dentistry; a Member of the CIHR Group in Skeletal Development and Remodeling and the New Emerging Team in Osteoarthritis and Pain; a lecturer in her own department as well as the schools of Medicine and Dentistry, and received her tenure from the University of Western Ontario in the summer of 2006. On the national level, Suzanne was the recipient of numerous research grants and was a founding member of the Canadian Arthritis Network.  Suzanne’s dedication to the advancement of arthritis research was evident both in through her research as well as her involvement at the community level with the Arthritis Society.

Since taking up her position at Western in 1997, Suzanne’s lab became a second home to 10 graduate students, 10 undergraduate students, and numerous summer students, of which I had the distinct honor of being one of the first.

Suzanne’s commitment to her students will undoubtedly be one of her greatest legacies.

Although when I started graduate school I was Suzanne’s only student, our lab was rarely empty because Suzanne was one of THOSE professors. The one the students would come see for help if their experiments didn’t work; for explanations on details they had not understood in class; for advice if they were at a crossroads; or just for one of those famous pep talks that kept us all going. Suzanne’s generosity, steadfastness and dedication to her students explains why many of us, years after leaving the department, still turned to her for first when we were faced with important decisions. Suzanne enabled her students to be successful by teaching them to do science the right way. She had high standards and pushed her students hard, and as a result, always found a way to get the best out of each and every one of us.

In the summers with the onslaught of students, the dept. lunch room became a place known not for peace and quiet, but for the raucous of laughter that accompanied the daily tomfoolery. Instead of being deterred by this, Suzanne along with a few other brave members of the faculty, turned up daily to have lunch with the students. Suzanne seemed to enjoy the entertainment these afternoons provided, and even went out of her way to be involved with the students outside the lab playing on the departmental softball team, and hosting numerous BBQs and her and Jeff’s house. She took a great deal of pride in her students and would go above and beyond to show her support. When I received my BSc from Western, it was not enough for Suzanne to extend her congratulations or even attend the ceremony. Instead she dawned her McGill robes and sat through the long and overheated convocation ceremony as a faculty member so that she could be the one to put the hood over my head and be the first to shake my hand.

True to her giving nature, that last time I saw Suzanne she was concerned that she would not be here to provide me with support and the inevitable next round of reference letters. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to tell her that her guidance and friendship had already provided me with more than I could ever have expected. I told her what I believe: that I was indebted to her.

Her response I want to share with all of you who were taught by her, or who worked along side of her. She asked us all to go on and do the research that she would not be able to do. To train good scientists. To carry on in our lives applying the high standards and dedication we learnt from her in whatever we are doing, and that way she would live on through us.

Suzanne truly touched the lives of those of us who were lucky enough to have the chance to know her. She would want us to celebrate her life and acknowledge that she is now in a better place, but we cannot do so without acknowledging all that she was. With Suzanne’s passing we have lost a teacher, a mentor, a collegue, a friend, a source of support and encouragement, and an inspiration on how to live life in the face of the greatest adversity with grace, dignity, and selflessness."

Other Memories and Pictures:

I am interested in collecting any photos, audio, video and/or memories of Suzanne and
I invite you to share anything you may have by emailing it to me:

The Significance of Flowers

In Suzanne's room at the hospital, we were unable to have any real flowers for a variety of reasons.  Friends Andre and Carlene came in with the following type of 'flowers':

The stems were wrapped around the handles on the end of the bed, where they stayed during Suzannes hospital stay, despite one sticking its tongue out at her.  Everyone who came in commented on them.  And they became the first thing Suzanne would see when she woke up... this was significant, because it helped her know where she was right away, and she would then know she could call for me (Husband Jeff) or her Mom, as one of us was always with her during her last days.    Thanks Andre and Carlene!

Other Memorials to Suzanne

From: Robert Dube (Lachine, QC)
"I remember the day Shirley brought her new baby daughter home in September of 1964. I was five years old.  My brother and sister were so excited - a new little girl was moving into our neighbourhood. From that day onward, for many years we would see her sweet smile and enjoy casual conversation as we all played togehter and she grew into a charming young woman.  Suzanne was a wonderful gentle caring woman who could do no harm.  A joy to be around she was a tremendous role model who was respected by those around her.  Although aware of her illness, her passing has profoundly touched me.  She will be missed."

Pictures from Canadian Cancer Society - Relay for Life

In London, faculty and students from UWO entered a team.

They also purchased the letter 'C' from the word Cure in Suzanne's memory.

Several of us (myself and a few students and faculty) were involved with the lighting.
Thanks to those who invited me out to participate in that step!


In Ottawa, friends also participated, and purchased the following luminaries in Suzanne's memory:


They stood up well, despite the rain.

On to next page - Eight Beatitudes of Jesus

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