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Obituary: Sooke's Louise Lemire-Elmore - singer, composer, teacher, gardener, volunteer

Jun 07 2012
Louise Lemire-Elmore, 66, had a passion for gardening and an eye for interior design. 

Louise Lemire-Elmore, 66, had a passion for gardening and an eye for interior design.

Photograph by: Family photo , timescolonist.com (June 2012)

Louise Lemire-Elmore had a passion for making things beautiful. That passion took shape in the music she sang and composed, her gardening, her eye for interior design or the dinner parties she would host at the large oceanfront cabin she shared with her husband.

It was outside of that Sooke log cabin, built and decorated by her and her husband, Bruce Lemire-Elmore, that the 66-year-old was killed in a tragic accident the evening of May 29.

Louise somehow lost control while heading down her steep driveway off West Coast Road and drowned after her Toyota Matrix plunged into the ocean. The B.C.

Coroner Service has ruled out that she suffered a medical emergency.

Bruce said because there were no brake marks to indicate excessive speed down the driveway, investigators have speculated that perhaps she swerved to avoid an animal that darted out onto the driveway, as there was fresh bear skat on the lawn in the morning.

But Louise's family and expansive networks of friends are remembering her for her influential life, rather than her sudden death.

Growing up on the Prairies, when Louise was nine and her younger sister Flora was six, her parents moved the family to Victoria. Louise attended St. Ann's Academy and spent five years as a nun. She would eventually leave the order for her first love.

Bruce was studying to become a Jesuit priest when he met Louise, first at a Catholic college in Spokane, Washington, and then during a chance meeting years later in Toronto.

"I was not ordained as a priest. I put that off because I knew I was in love and I had to make a decision," Bruce said. "Instead, I left to marry her."

The two were married in December 1973 and worked as school teachers in Toronto, Bruce in religious studies and Louise as a music and choir teacher. The couple have four adult children, Domini, Chloé, Justin and Gillian, and one grandchild, 2 1 /2-year-old Louisiana, named after Louise and paternal grandmother Ana.

After moving to Sooke in 1981, Louise and Bruce became heavily involved with the local Catholic church, St. Rose of Lima Parish.

Louise was the choir director and organist and also in charge of decor for the new church, dedicated May 5.

She was also a member of the Victoria Master Gardeners Association and was an avid cook, undeterred at making complicated new recipes for large dinner parties, Bruce said.

"She had a vision that just wouldn't stay inside a box and that was true in practically every aspect of her life," Bruce said.

"She did things to make them wonderfully enjoyable for people."

Close friend Anne Mullens met Louise more than 10 years ago when the two were singing with the Victoria Choral Society. In 2005, the two created the Victoria Philharmonic Choir, which catered to more advanced singers.

Mullens was tasked to be the executive director, which had her inside a dingy, rented bachelor suite for 20 hours a week. Lemire-Elmore offered to replace the carpets with hardwood when Mullens was on vacation for two weeks, but instead, she and Bruce completely renovated the suite with new paint, polished doorknobs, custom-built shelves, a new bathroom and crown mouldings.

When Mullens returned to the suite, Louise was standing there with glasses of champagne to christen the place.

"It was the most phenomenal thing that anyone has ever given to me," Mullens said.

It was that thoughtfulness and generosity embodied by Louise that earned her lasting friendships around the world, Bruce said.

"She was just dearly loved by everyone she met."

The funeral for Louise Lemire-Elmore will take place Thursday at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church at 11 a.m. with a celebration of life to follow. It will be broadcast live on the website www.beacheswest.com.

The Victoria Philharmonic Choir will dedicate to Louise this Saturday's Bach transcendent Mass in B Minor at First Metropolitan United Church, at 8 p.m.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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