Dawn Varney

Dawn Varney

Sunday, November 10th, 1935 Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

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Obituary for Dawn Mary Varney (Gilman)

Varney, Dawn Mary (nee Gilman)
November 10, 1935 – August 18, 2020
Peacefully at Bethell Hospice in Inglewood, ON. Dawn was born in Newmarket and later moved to Toronto and Caledon, ON. Athletic, intelligent and beautiful, she took on any challenge that interested her: she learned to fly airplanes, create intricate stained glass lamps, crochet, knit, plant magnificent gardens, and bake the best butter tarts in Canada. Friends and family thought of Dawn as a brilliant, irreverent, independent, hard-working woman who could do anything she set her mind to. She was astoundingly strong, having twice survived cancer. Dawn was the devoted wife to Ralph Varney; mother to John (predeceased), Deborah Nikifortchuk and her husband Alex and Alan Bickerton and his wife, Donna. She was stepmother to David and Grant Varney; grandmother to Harmony and John Michael Bickerton; and step-grandma to Tara, Laura, Deidre and Madison. She leaves behind her sister Peggy and husband Mike Scott of Thunder Bay; her nieces and nephew, Pauline Woodruff, Mark Bourrie, MaryAnne Morin and Linda Steele; and her friends, Boris Kawun and Carol Fox. She will be greatly missed by those who enjoyed her great intellect and biting humour, and by her faithful cats and the woodland creatures that regularly appeared at her door. A lover of poetry, Dawn often quoted this passage from Invictus. “I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.” Dawn was a true original. And above all, she was a stoic, unconquerable survivor. Many thanks to Michael Young and our incredible support team from LHIN, Doctors Meghory and Gagnon, and the kind, compassionate people at Bethell Hospice. At Dawn’s request, no funeral will be held. Those who would like to donate in her memory might consider Toronto Humane Society, Princess Margaret Hospital or Bethell Hospice.
A tree will be planted in memory of Dawn in the Dods & McNair Memorial Forest at the Island Lake Conservation Area, Orangeville. The next annual dedication service will be held on Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 2:30 p.m. Condolences may be offered to the family at

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Irene Sweeney Willis

My deepest sympathies to the family, especially to Deborah and Alex. Deb, I know how committed you were to looking after your mom in her final years and how much Alex did for here too, both often travelling separately from the US, as if it were around the corner. If your mother wasn’t able to thank you, I’m sure she would now.

Love for one’s mother is like no other. May yours Rest In Peace and shine eternally upon you and those who loved her.

Irene Sweeney Willis
Comment | Posted at 08:12am via Condolence

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