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WARMINGTON: Jeannette Runciman fondly remembered
Joe Warmington
Published:
February 21, 2020
Updated:
February 21, 2020 6:23 AM EST
Retired senator Bob Runciman and his wife, Jeannette. (Joe Warmington, Toronto Sun)
BROCKVILLE — He served Brockville and the Thousands Islands areas as an MPP for almost 30 years.
A retired senator, his career included a stint as the interim leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party and several cabinet posts, including solicitor general.
But on Thursday, Bob Runciman was a merely a man suffering from the tragic loss of his wonderful wife of 56 years, Jeannette, who was accidentally struck by a vehicle outside the Brockville Hospital.
Known for his strength and toughness, Runciman is devastated by this sudden personal catastrophe.
“I am in need of some friends right now,” said a teary-eyed Runciman.
And man, oh man, did they show up for the funeral service at the Presbyterian Church in the centre of picturesque Brockville.
The church was jammed and there was not a parking spot left in Brockville.
Many travelled long distances to pay their condolences but more to give the political icon a much-needed hug.
Peter MacKay, a contender for the federal Conservative leadership, was on hand. Senators Don Plett, Mike MacDonald, Percy Mockler, Larry Smith and Lynn Beyak showed up. MPP and close friend Steve Clark, MPP John Yakabuski, MP Michael Barrett, and New York Senator Patty Ritchie and aide Jim Reagen also paid their respects.
People loved Jeannette Runciman. And they love the former senator just as much.
“They both have done so much for this community for so long,” said Jerry Huck, the owner of Huck Marine, who’s also local legend for his charity work. “This is a close-knit community and this has devastated the whole area.”
But mostly they want make sure Bob can find a way to battle through this. His daughters, Sue and Robin, eulogized about their mom and “best friend.”
They talked about how their mom backed her husband’s political aspirations and worked as his first campaign manager for Runciman’s run for Brockville city council.
“Their love was strong,” said Robin.
Every morning they would go for coffee in downtown Brockville, partially to keep up with the community, partially to “talk politics” and mostly to feed a hungry stray cat named Whitey.
Jeannette loved Whitney as much as her own felines, Killer and Hissy. She wasn’t nicknamed the “Cat Lady” for nothing.
“She was very kind,” said Sue. “She cared.”
Runciman’s assistant, former journalist Barry Raison, praised Jeannette for her massive impact on her husband’s political career — and also in his life in general.
“She paid attention to the small things,” he said, adding she’d even proof-read his speeches.
Those small things are what led Runciman to win election after election.
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Having grown up in Brockville, Toronto Sun columnist Mark Bonokoski recalled the two were very tight.
“So Bob and his family are going through a huge and unexpected loss,” said Bono. “What happened to his wife, Jeannette, was tragic. I feel for him. He is a good man, and always has been.”
One of the best.
I have known Bob for 35 years and consider him one of the most accomplished politicians ever.
I met Jeannette several times and loved her energy and the way she laughed. She brought out the best in Bob.
jwarmington@postmedia.com
http://torontosun.com/news/local-new...dly-remembered