Ivan Heroux

Ivan Keith Heroux

August 23, 1958 – July 16, 2009

To those who knew him, Ivan was “The Gentle Giant.” Born in Nelson, Ivan was a long-time resident of the Kootenay Region, who smiled and joked with everyone he saw. He was a friendly but somewhat shy man and was a well-liked member of the local community. He was noble, honourable and kind, gracious and polite, caring, respectful and thoughtful. His imposing frame – he stood over 6’5” tall and weighed over 300 pounds – was matched only by the size of his heart and his compassion and concern for others. He literally gave the coat off his back and his last dollar to various people throughout the years (“he/she needed it more than I do” he would say).

Tragically, this wonderful human being, a loving son, brother and father, was challenged with schizophrenia, but he endured his illness courageously and with dignity throughout his entire adulthood. He was a loyal, supportive and helpful companion to his mother, Myrna, and an affectionate and devoted brother to his three siblings, Nyonna, Kayda and Michael. Ivan loved his daughters Erin and Mara dearly, and would have been delighted to welcome his newborn granddaughter, Kaija.

Ivan was predeceased by his father, George Heroux, on August 16, 1993. He is survived by his daughters Erin Elliott (Keijo Rannankari) of Victoria and their daughter, Kaija, and Mara Bilesky of Castlegar; his mother, Myrna Heroux of Castlegar; his sister Nyonna Deptuck (Eugene) of Castlegar; sister Kayda Ireland (Robert Worthington) of Vancouver; brother Michael T. Heroux (Terrie-Lynn LaMarsh) of Winfield; his nieces: Kristen Shoichet (Sam) and their son Jarrett of Vancouver; Farren Deptuck of Burnaby; Kelsey Skulnec (Gordon) of Cranbrook; and Cheyenne Heroux of Winfield; and his nephew: Drew Deptuck (Jen Feldmann) and their son Leif of Penticton; and many uncles, aunts and cousins on both sides of his family.

Ivan will be sadly missed by everyone who had the good fortune to know him well.

The family would like to thank the many people who, over the years, improved and enhanced Ivan’s quality of life. Thank you to all his friends; he was fond of each and every one of you. Special thanks to Bob Ashbury – you were the kind of friend everyone should have. Ivan had special affection for many lifetime friends – and you know who you are.

Thank you Ruth, Christy, Candice, Janice and staff at Mental Health for your kindness and ongoing assistance. Thank you Dr. Jon VanVliet for being there on the many, many occasions Ivan has needed you over the years.

Thank you to the Staff of the Daly Pavilion and Dr. Vasi, for always treating Ivan with dignity and respect and for making the Daly a safe retreat for Ivan on those occasions when the disease overwhelmed him. Always know that what you are doing is of inestimable value to the patients you treat and for their families and friends.

Thank you to the staff of the McKim Cottage; your care and attention to Ivan’s needs was greatly appreciated; Ivan considered McKim Cottage to be his “vacation home.”

Not to be forgotten is McBride Manor in Trail – Ivan was able to live there happily with his roommates, who came to be counted amongst his friends.

And, finally, thank you to the many ambulance attendants, police officers and first response personnel who have “rescued” Ivan over the years. Wednesday night, July 16, 2009 included, your demeanour and expertise and the dignity you extended towards Ivan will always be remembered and appreciated.

Dear Ivan, you always made us laugh. You were generous, kind-hearted and good. You were brave in the face of unrelenting adversity. You endured such suffering with grace, tolerance and quiet acceptance. A lesser man might have raged against this darkness, but not you, dear Ivan. Through it all, you never complained. You maintained your sense of humour, your charm and your soft spoken countenance. Yes, you really were The Gentle Giant. And how we loved you. Rest in Peace our beloved Ivan, until the resurrection.

In lieu of flowers, donations of remembrance in Ivan’s name may be made to the B.C. Schizophrenia Society (BCSS) by visiting www.bcss.org or by contacting: BCSS, #201 – 6011 Westminster Highway (at #2 Road), Richmond, B.C. V7C 4V4, Email: bcss.prov@telus.net, Phone: 604.270.7841 (ext. 21 – ask for Greg). Thank you for supporting your local schizophrenia society and for including persons with schizophrenia in your life. Ivan would have wanted you to know that persons with schizophrenia have a disease. Mental illness is hidden and as it is not as obvious as physical disease, those who battle schizophrenia often must also struggle against the enormous stigma that accompanies the illness.

Schizophrenia is a treatable disease but currently there is no cure. The BCSS is dedicated to supporting families and communities through outreach programs and services for persons with schizophrenia. The Mind Foundation of B.C. is an affiliated organization which specializes in research to find a cure for schizophrenia. When making your donation, please specify if you wish your donation to go to programs and services or to research. Thank you.

A memorial service for Ivan will be held on Saturday, July 25, 2009 at 3:00 p.m. at the First Memorial Funeral Services and Crematorium (Castlegar Funeral Chapel), 411-9th Avenue, Castlegar. You are welcome to join us for an open house in Ivan’s honour after the service at 2433-11th Avenue, Castlegar, B.C. 250-365-3873.

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