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(Posted 10:30 p.m., March 1)
'Queen' of Queenswood Heights succumbs to cancer at age 62

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Lori Nash, long-time community advocate, former Orleans Star columnist, and founder of the Friends of the Cumberland Library, passed away on Thursday after a lengthy battle with cancer. File photo


One of the east end's most impassioned residents and arguably the best friend the Cumberland Library ever had, passed away on Thursday after a year-long battle with cancer.

Look up the words "community builder" in the dictionary and you will see a picture of Lori Nash smiling back at you.

Nash moved to Queenswood Heights with her husband Lorne around 1972. The couple moved into a bungalow at the end of Tompkins Avenue where they raised their two children, Marcia and Christopher.

From the get go, Nash immersed herself in community issues. Over the years she has been involved in almost every issue and project in Queenswood Heights.

She was heavily involved as a parent volunteer at Queenswood Public School and was a long-time member of the Queenswood Heights Community Association where she wrote and published the "Queensliner". She also wrote a polular column for the Orleans Star in the late 80s and early 90s.

Education has always been near and dear to Nash's heart. In fact, she put her name forward when a vacancy came up on the Carleton School Board in 1988 along with Fran Stronach and Judi Lian, who would both become close firends. But her true passion was the public library. She was a staunch believer in the public library's importance within the local community and society at large.

Nash served on the Cumberland Library Board board from 1991 to 1996 where she helped form the Friends of the Cumberland Library, serving as the group's president from 1996 to 2003 when the city's libraries were merged into the current Ottawa Library.

More recently, she served as the president of the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association and sat on the board of directors of both the Ottawa Public Library Board and Friends of Canadian Libraries.

She won a plethora of awards for her work, and in June 2010 she received the Order of Friendship Award from the Ottawa Public Library for long time service in advocacy and volunteer support.

Nash is responsible for several innovative fundraising initiatives, including the creation of self service book stores, and in 2004 she led the charge to save eight library branches that were slated for closure.

She also started the Awesome Authors Youth Writing Contest and launched "Pot-pourri", a bilingual anthology of the winning poems and short stories.

During a recent ceremony in which the meeting room at the Cumberland Branch was named in her honour, Ottawa Public Library Board vice-chairman Hunter McGill summed up what Nash meant to the Ottawa Public Library system in one sentence.

"No one can match Lori for sheer passion and commitment for advocacy and support for the Ottawa Public Library," said McGill.

News of Nash's passing was greeted with sadness by some of her closest friends.

Al and Helen Tweddle lived in Queenswood Heights for nearly a decade before the Nashes moved into the neighbourhood. Lori shared Helen's passion for the fledgling community, which at that time numbered less than 200 homes, and the two women hit it off immediately and remained friends ever since.

"I've been thinking all day of the things we've done together. She was a real fireball. If you needed to know anything she was the one to go to, (Her passing) is a real loss, not just to the commumity, but to all the things she was involved in and the people who knew her," said Tweddle.

Judi Lian and Fran Stronach got to know Nash when all three women applied for a vacancy on the school board in 1991.

Nash didn't get the job, but the three women remained close friends. In fact, she worked on Stronach's campaign during the next election.

"She was such a tireless worker and it was always to help better the community and obviously she was a very loving mother and grandmother," said Stronach.

Lian remembers reading a column Nash wrote about dog ownership sometime in 1989 or 1990. She totally agreed with her point of view and called her up to tell her so.

"We just started talking and never stopped," said Lian. "She was a tiny little thing with a very strong personality and a tremendous sense of humour. We laughed more than we talked. She just knew what was important in the community and used every bit of energy she that wasn't saved for her family. She put her whole heart into everything she did. I'm really going to miss her."

Carleton District School Board trustee John Shea often searched out Nash for advice on local school board issues.

"Lori was an incredible person. At 8:30 a.m. the day after I was elected in 2006, she called me to talk about Queenswood Public School. That's how Lori lived her life - she never missed a minute. I'm going to miss running into her at community events and listening to her sound advice about Orleans area schools," said Shea.

Ottawa-Orléans MPP Phil McNeely released a statement offering his condolences to the family within hours of her passing.

"I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to Lori's husband Lorne, her daughter Marcia, her son Christopher, and her grandchildren Kylie, Cassidy and Holly, as well as her entire extended family. She was a community leader in the truest sense of the world and her legacy should serve as an inspiration to community builders both present and future." said McNeely.

Visitation will be held at the Heritage Funeral Home on St. Joseph Blvd. on Monday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 15at Redeemer Alliance Church, 4825 Innes Road.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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