Legacy! Given in tears. Established in love.

It was my wise accountant who counselled me during a rough patch a couple of years ago… don’t look ahead just now, he said, look back; look back at your legacy.

Legacy. Legacy. It’s a huge responsibility, and one that induces humility in short order.

Legacy. The wonderful Vanessa, the anchor at Barrie’s downtown Grand and Toy location, always comments on this space when I see her and we recently had a discussion about legacies. Her legacy is cheery, efficient, caring, connected customer service!

But the legacies of note this week belong to two women and to their generous families.

A little over a year ago, Mimi Khonsari’s life ended quickly one Friday night. A kind, quiet, thoughtful woman, Mimi was also an artist. A student at Georgian College’s Jewellery and Metals program, her designs were like herself, elegant, uncluttered, strong, and precise. An artist of several media, Mimi enjoyed the jewellery program. She would labour for weeks over a design and when she “got it right” her whole being would enthuse. She loved to create beautiful things.

On a Thursday morning two months ago, Kathy Irvin’s life ended quickly. Kind, deliberate, intense, caring, Kathy’s creativity encompassed people and processes, ideas and opportunities. Equally energetic, Kathy took her skill into mobilizing people to care for each other in exceptional ways.

When a family loses its female anchor without warning or time for preparation, what incredible pressure! And certainly in the case of Mimi’s family, her husband, Homa and sons, Navid, Ramin and Ali all took time to think about how to ensure Mimi’s memory was sanctified with an appropriate memorial.

When Kathy died so suddently, her husband Rick and son Tim did thorough soul-searching to find the memorial that would most honestly represent their wife and mom.

The Khonsaris chose an Arts Scholarship Fund at Georgian College.

The Irvins chose to direct donations to the Hospice Building Campaign.


When Georgian College’s Design Arts Department began to think about appropriate recognition of their wonderful student, it took input from teachers, colleagues, and practising artists of the Georgian community, in conference with Mimi’s family. And here’s what they did. Because the donations for Mimi reached well into the many thousands mark, the memorial will offer the following opportunities.

A portion is being used for a scholarship fund to help Jewellery and Metals students with financial challenges. A portion will be used to invite an artist or crafts person who is an expert in the field of jewellery and metals to host a weekend workshop that will be open to students as well as the public. And a final portion will be used to reward the winner of a design competition for students each year. The winner will be awarded an ounce of 24 karat gold, an unthinkable luxury for a designing jewellery student!

And so this memorial will continue to enhance the life of creative students in an educative environment.

Mimi¹s legacy.

For Kathy’s memorial, thousands of dollars have been lovingly placed in the careful hands of Hospice Simcoe, the charitable organization founded by Kathy and supported by her husband and son after the death of their pre-teen daughter.

Hospice, which started at the Irvin kitchen table, and then squeezed itself into a room in an abandoned building on Owen St, and then moved to 80 Bradford St, is now working from 1600 square feet. However, the Salter Pilon architectural renderings call for 9000 square feet of brand new facility and Kathy¹s memorial donations are going to contribute significantly to this home.

The Hospice folks call Kathy “walking compassion” and are so grateful for the Irvins’ decision to direct funds to their capital campaign. Discussions will be ongoing as the building takes shape on how to apapropriately recognize Kathy in the finished product. The project needs $1.1 million, with ground-breaking next spring and completion hopefully by the end of 2006, Hospice will continue its core services and add new ones too. Growth like Kathy always dreamed of.

Kathy’s legacy.

Two remarkable women. Both 60. Neighbours, living less than 40 feet from each other. Both married to doctors. Both mothers, sisters, daughters, wives.

And thanks to their generous families, both the spark of legacies that will mark this community forever.