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Lives Lived: Beatrice Louise MacKinnon, 58

Beatrice Louise MacKinnon

Wife, mother, sister, friend. Born on Sept. 4, 1958, in Chesley, Ont.; died on Sept. 21, 2016, in Oakville, Ont., of ovarian cancer, aged 58.

Louise (never Beatrice) was born into a Scottish-German farming family of seven boys. An older sister had died before Louise was born, making her the only girl in the busy household. She grew up a tomboy and a princess. She excelled at sports and was a gifted student, known for her competitive spirit and her flaming red hair.

When a car accident took the life of her closest brother, 17-year old Louise vowed to live life to the fullest. She married Dean Opie and, a few days after she turned 18, the young couple welcomed a red-haired daughter, Alison.

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Louise balanced the pressures of parenthood with education, but her marriage did not last. In 1980, she and four-year-old Alison moved to Kitchener where Louise studied engineering at Conestoga College, one of the few women in the program. She graduated in 1983 and began working at an engineering consulting firm, defying stereotypes prevalent in what was then still a largely male domain.

The early 1990s brought a move to Oakville and Louise began a 20-year career with Ontario Realty Corp. in Toronto, ending as a business analyst.

She developed strong roots in Oakville, where she played recreational soccer and baseball. She helped to start a book club (red wine was always on the reading list). A fan of popcorn, AC/DC and Yo-Yo Ma, she both intimidated and delighted us with her striking looks, her sense of humour, her skill at anything she tried, and her high standards in everything from fashion to men.

When her mother, Bea, became ill with ovarian cancer, Louise went to her parents' home in Paisley, Ont., every weekend to help with her care. Her mother died in 2005; her father, Jack, in 2006.

In the spring of 2007, she met Andy Bounsall, a surveyor. As he said, "It took me 50 years to find Louise, but it was worth the wait." Shortly after Louise was herself diagnosed with ovarian cancer, he proposed. She accepted – on the condition that he sell his second motorcycle and play his guitar only in the basement.

Louise relished their wedding planning, later admitting she wasn't sure she would live to attend it. But survive she did and they enjoyed three wonderful years together, moving to Milton, Andy's hometown . When her cancer returned, along with a brain tumour, Louise went on leave from her new job with a health agency to focus on recovery.

She spent her final year enduring chemo, radiation, steroids and surgery, but still found the energy to make their new house a home, encourage her daughter in her marketing/advertising career, strengthen her many friendships and family ties, care for her two cats, and be a loving wife to Andy.

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Louise was always a "looker" and after returning from a particularly brutal stay in hospital, she decided to do one thing for her vanity – curl her eyelashes. She laughed as she recounted how that resulted in a curler full of lashes and none left on her eyelids.

Her final week at Ian Anderson House in Oakville was peaceful, though she arrived too late to fully enjoy the gardens. Louise was generous to the end and gave her friends and family many gifts, the biggest of which was her gift of friendship. As Andy put it, grief is caused by an absence of presence. With time, we may stop grieving, but we will always miss her considerable presence.

Anna Larson is Louise's friend.

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