JACQUELINE (JACKIE) GERELUS
April 25, 1962 - August 17, 2021
It is with great sadness our family announces the passing of our daughter, sister, wife, niece, auntie and friend, Jackie Gerelus (nee Leonard) on August 17, 2021. Jackie will be lovingly remembered and forever missed by her devoted husband Mark, parents Barbara & Tony Leonard, sisters Sue Leonard and Monique (Bernie) Rempel and her in laws; Mother-in-law Ruth, Trevor (Diane), Roz (Rene), MaryAnne (Gerry), Lori (Pat), her 24 nieces and nephews and numerous friends. Jackie was predeceased by her brother Denis (Laurel) and her grandparents.
Jackie was born in Winnipeg on April 25, 1962 to parents Tony and Barbara Leonard. She was the little sister to Denis and Sue and the big sister to Monique. She enjoyed growing up in Transcona and spent countless hours at East End Community Club playing ringette, figure skating and taking dance lessons. She attended Wayoata Elementary, Arthur Day Jr High and Murdoch MacKay Collegiate until grade 11 when the family moved in 1978 to Brandon Manitoba.
It was in Brandon that Jackie spotted the love of her life, Mark, while she was the statistician for the Vincent Massey boys volleyball team and Mark was playing on the opposing team from Neelin High. They dated for 5 years before marrying in 1984 and just recently celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary. They enjoyed a true high school sweetheart love story.
In 1980 while living in Brandon Jackie began her 35 year career with MTS before moving back to Winnipeg in 1991. She held many positions throughout her career and retired as a Program Manager in 2015. She made lifelong friends and mentored several people throughout her years at MTS. With her vast knowledge of different departments she was an integral member of every team she was part of. She was an advocate for her staff and encouraged them to be confident in their own capabilities.
Jackie LOVED her nieces and nephews like they were her own children and had a special bond with each one of them. Fond memories include Jackie’s laugh and sense of humour, her kindness and devotion to family, the way she was always genuine and intentional asking about their lives, coming out to their sporting events to cheer them on, the countless sleepovers she hosted for them, her amazing snuggles, holding the longest note at birthdays, her hair dressing skills and even teaching them how to make whipped cream. They are all going to miss her very much.
Jackie was known for her endless generosity with both gifts and time spent on others. Every gift, big or small, was well thought out and personal and she had a knack for constantly hunting down the trending toys every Christmas. She was always willing to help others with any project they had on their to-do list. If anyone expressed a need in front of Jackie it was often met without any further discussion. Jackie was selfless and generous right to the end wanting to ensure the staff at Riverview, HSC CancerCare, HSC GD6 and were all given individual gifts as a thank you for the care and support they provided to her. Jackie did all these things never expecting anything in return.
Jackie loved travelling which included trips with family and friends to Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and several locations in USA, Canada and Mexico. She was an avid golfer, holding memberships and participating in several charitable golf tournaments for many years. She also spearheaded the annual family golf tournament with Mark every July for the past 25 years. She was a skilled knitter and often gifted people with her work. She enjoyed decorating her home and took great joy in selecting the plants for their yard each year.
Anyone who knew Jackie knows that she was never afraid to speak up or fight for what she believed in. Her customer service background made her a very knowledgeable consumer and coupled with her organizational skills and attention to detail she could take full advantage of sales and the warranties on anything she ever purchased. There was no problem that presented itself that she felt couldn’t be fixed or at the very least improved by an excel spreadsheet.
Although she left us far too soon, Jackie and her family choose to believe she kicked cancer’s ass by beating her prognosis by 8 1/2 years. We are all grateful for each and every additional day we had together.
Flowers are gratefully declined however the most caring thing you can do for us is get fully vaccinated so no other family is robbed of spending time with their loved one. Other things we would also appreciate are, donating blood and platelets, or make a monetary donation to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.
In keeping with Jackie's wishes, a private service has been held. The family kindly encourages you to take a few moments to share your favorite memories of Jackie with us on this tribute page.
The family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and support staff at St Boniface CancerCare, HSC CancerCare, HSC GD6 and Riverview Health Centre for their care and support. A special thank you to Dr. Wong, Dr. Speziali, Kevin Dawe, Lisa and Dawn.
Eulogies given at Jackie's Celebration of Life:
We are here today to celebrate and remember Jackie, my best friend, my soulmate my Gus Gus.
It is very difficult to celebrate when the one you love has left much to soon.
How do you sum up forty two years of memories in four minutes.
I start by remembering all of the things that I am going miss everyday for the rest of my life;
Her sense of humour
Her hugs and kisses…
Jackie is the most beautiful person inside and out. She put everybody else ahead of herself never expecting anything in return.
Dedication and unconditional love are two of her greatest attributes. She loves all of our nieces, nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews like they were our own children. She even adopted a few of our neighbours kids as well .
Birthdays, Christmas’s and any occasion that warranted were a favourite of hers to find out what that truly special gift was and make sure that was what they got.
Nothing made her happier than that expression of delight that each one of them made when opening there present.
She loved nothing more than the hugs, kisses and snuggles that always followed.
Jackie’s conviction, determination and genuineness are supported in all of the kind words written by family, friends and coworkers on the tribute page and Facebook. Jackie knows the name of every nurse that helped her over the years and always made sure to let them know how much we appreciated the way they personalized every treatment. She always took in treats for all of the nurses and treatment teams at Christmas to let them know how much she appreciated them.
Jackie and I had our share of disagreements. Of course I was always wrong! I would apologize, she would smile! Jackie was wrong, once. She always said she didn’t have many friends outside of family. With the outpouring of condolences and well wishes from those people she worked with identifying her as a kind, compassionate and caring person, she is smiling today as I was finally right.
We greeted every morning with a hug, a kiss and an “I love you”. We ended everyday with a hug, a kiss and “sweet dreams “. These are the things that I miss the most but will remember and cherish forever.
Jackie is tough. Known as Wonder Woman in the neighbourhood, she was often called on to settle unruly neighbours with a stern talk and her patented jazz hands.
Jackie is brave. Diagnosed with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours over ten years ago and then diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome just over a year ago she kicked cancers ass. All of the doctors we worked with told Jackie she was a medical wonder, they said that if they didn’t actually know she had cancer they wouldn’t have known she had cancer. She never complained, took whatever treatment came next without hesitation. I will miss our attempts at singing along to all of the seventies music when we went to and from appointments.
Jackie never let any of her treatments prevent her from enjoying life. Towards the end fought incredibly hard to make sure she attended all family celebrations.
She said she never felt cheated, she celebrated the time she had left. Her last and only wish was to spend whatever time she had left visiting with as many family and friends that she loved and loved her. She was truly sorry that she wasn’t able to see everyone but wanted everyone to know that she loves them dearly.
We refer to our life as a grand adventure and every event as one chapter. I know our adventure isn’t finished as I truly believe we will be together again for that next chapter to begin.
Time will not heal my broken heart, the pain will never go away and my memory of her will never fade.
Jackie, I will love you forever.
Sweet Dreams Gus Gus!
What can be said about Jackie that hasn't been said already? I think we each have our own thoughts and special memories about her and that will provide comfort to each of us as we try to come to terms with such a terrible loss.
Jackie was an amazing woman. She was probably the most positive person I have ever met. She was kind, loving and generous with both her time and her thoughtfulness. Every one of her nieces and nephews enjoyed her love and attention. It was obvious she spent considerable time and effort choosing just the right gift at Christmas or on birthdays. She spent time talking to each of them with genuine interest. Jackie was the "baby whisperer". She could get kids to settle down and fall asleep on her shoulder before they ever knew what hit them. She read books, watched kid movies and answered questions with love, patience and a great sense of humor. As all our children grew older, Jackie always engaged them in conversation and showed genuine interest in the paths they chose to follow. They remember that about her.
The courage Jackie showed throughout her life and battle with cancer is inspirational. No giving up. The enthusiasm with which she approached life and the laughter she brought with her everywhere she went are the things we will remember about her. The hole left in our hearts now that she is gone will never fully heal. We are so very fortunate that Mark brought her into our lives. We love and miss her more than words can express. We have been honored and privileged to have her as part of our family.
Letter to Jackie
You are and have been the most important person in my life as my best friend who also happened to be my sister. I hope you know how much I love, respect and even like you. You have been my supporter through all the good and all the bad. My shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen and a voice to offer suggestions or give me a kick in the ass. I always knew I could depend on you for anything.
You could make me laugh like no other person with your made up swear words, your quick wit, your sarcasm and your funny voices.
We could communicate with each other without using words which freaked a few people out and also helped us win at some games.
You were so brave and strong throughout this entire shit show. You continued working for 4 years after your initial diagnosis- who the f*** does that? You were always more concerned about how everyone else was doing rather than how you were doing.
I was only 11 months and 1 week old when you came into my life so I don’t know a life without you in it. You are the other me and I have no idea what I’m going to do without you because my future always included you and Mark being a part of it.
I love you and I miss you so much. Please visit me in my dreams as often as you can so it feels like I still get to see and talk to you .
Eulogy by Tony Leonard
I can tell you as a parent that one of the worst things is losing a child, but losing a second one is even tougher.
We were blessed in 1962 to find out that we had a new child on the way. At that time you didn’t get to know if it is a boy or is it a girl. When we went to the hospital in those days they kept the child in the nursery so I went to check to make sure Barb was okay and then I went to see our new baby girl. I had a habit of looking at the child before naming the child and when I saw Jackie for the first time the words of a song that I had been hearing recently came to mind; ‘Jolie Jaqueline, pretty girl, Jolie Jaqueline like a pearl’. So I went back to the room and convinced Barb that we should name her Jacqueline Renee. Knowing full well that the name will be Jackie which suited her to a T. She was a special child to us being our third and our second girl.
While returning from a family trip to Toronto in 1965, Jackie got sick and we had no idea what was wrong so we stopped in Thunder Bay and took her to the hospital. It was about 6 or 7 pm when they took her in and we had no idea what might be wrong. They said due to the tests that were needed they would have to keep her overnight and asked where can we get a hold of you and we said, we don’t know we are just driving through. We had to go and find a hotel room at 10pm at night. Which we were lucky enough to do and phoned the hospital to tell them how to reach us. About Midnight they phoned and let us know it was not a burst appendix or anything serious that we had suspected. They told us it was food poisoning and we were able to come and get her the next morning. When we walked in, there she was, they had washed her hair and slicked it right down like we had never seen before, she was in mismatched pajamas and what was she doing? What Jackie would be doing the rest of her life, she was going to every other kid’s bed to make sure they were comfortable or see if they needed something. She continued that caring throughout her life.
In 1978 I got transferred to Brandon. It was a little tough to pull the kids out of school in Transcona where they had lived all their lives. They had gone to school there and made many friends. It was difficult to uproot them and take them to a whole new city to start from scratch. Sue and Jackie were in grades 12 and 11 and Monique was in grade 9. There were many good things that came out of our move to Brandon. One of them is that through Denis’ first marriage we now have 2 granddaughters that are here with us today, Casey and Amy, and they have now given us great grandchildren. Another good thing is that Jackie found Mark there. They were soul mates pretty well from when they met. They ended up spending over 40 years together, 37 of them married and it was a blessing to our family to have Mark join it. And also, the fact that we have and continue to have the love, friendship and companionship of the Gerelus family that will always be with us.
I am going to truly miss Jackie. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like without her knowing that we still have to go on. I will always miss her friendly greeting, “Hello Daddyo”.
I know there have been a lot of other things said but further to that I think in closing there are a couple of things that I received in the mail in condolences that have helped me. And with your indulgence I will read them now.
When Tomorrow Starts Without me
When tomorrow starts without me,
Please try to understand,
That an angle came and called my name
And took me by the hand,
The angel said my place was ready
In heaven far above
And that I would have to leave behind
All those that I love.
So when tomorrow starts without me,
Don’t think we are far apart,
For every time you think of me,
I’m right there in your heart.
Wipe those tear drops from your eyes,
Everything will be alright,
We will meet again,
Someday up here in heaven.
There is no need to worry,
Because I promise you,
You are never alone,
I am always with you.
I’m There Inside Your Heart
Right now I am in a different place,
And though we seem apart,
We are closer than we ever were….
I’m there inside your heart.
I’m with you when you greet the day
And while the sun shines bright.
I’m there to share the sunset too
I am with you every night.
I’m with you when the times are good,
To share a laugh or two,
And if a tear should start to fall
I will still be there with you.
And when that day arrives
That we are no longer apart,
I will smile and hold you close to me
I will hold you forever in my heart.
Memories, Stories and Condolences
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