Sir Wilfrid Laurier Foundation loses a devoted and loyal volunteer
For hundreds of parents and school board staff who were regulars at the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Foundation’s annual fundraisers in January and June over the past 16 years, Elizabeth Rossi’s face was a familiar one indeed, as she was as one of the foundation’s most trusted, hardworking and reliable volunteers.
Rossi passed away at age 59 on May 14 following a courageous battle with cancer.
Remembered by family
She leaves behind her devoted husband of 35 years, Serge Juteau, as well as daughters Amanda (Pascal) and Vanessa (Marco), and a granddaughter, Alicia.
She is also survived by her mother, Antonietta Maratta, and her brother Tony. Her father, Eugenio Rossi, pre-deceased Elizabeth.
“She was a very fine person,” said Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board chairman Paolo Galati, who met Rossi when he first joined the foundation board in 2012.
Always willing to help
“She was a kind, caring, elegant human being who never hesitated to offer her help. Always smiling and a very loyal employee and colleague at the board. Just an amazing person.”
Galati recalled that at the galas and lobsterfests, Rossi would often be at his side during an especially-important moment: when school board and foundation officials would make the rounds at tables selling long stretches of raffle tickets for the night’s prizes.
Elizabeth Rossi had been a Sir Wilfrid Laurier Foundation volunteer since around 2005 when the foundation was first launched
“I think that probably ninety per cent of the time, she and I were always together for that,” he said.
‘A ray of sunshine’
“I think probably the best way to describe Elizabeth is that she always so positive and really a ray of sunshine for so many people,” said former SWLSB chairwoman Jennifer Maccarone, who is now the Liberal MNA for Westmount-Saint Louis.
“She could always be counted on to volunteer and to help out. And she always did it with a smile. Even if you were having a bad day, she was the kind of person, if you met her along your way, you would feel better afterwards. She was very sweet and very genuine.”
A model volunteer
According to board communications coordinator Maxeen Jolin, Elizabeth Rossi had been a Sir Wilfrid Laurier Foundation volunteer since around 2005. That’s when the foundation was first launched to raise additional funds for SWLSB educational projects.
Rossi’s volunteerism was in addition to the work she had been doing at the SWLSB for years before as an administrative technician in the school board’s pedagogical services department.
A caring person
“Elizabeth was a very generous person and she was always willing to help,” Jolin, who also coordinates volunteers for the SWLF, said in an interview, recalling that Elizabeth was always eager to take on and complete tasks at foundation events.
“She was always very willing to help, always available, and she seemed to really care about people. When she asked how you were, she really meant it. She really wanted to know how you were doing. And she was very classy and stood out. For sure that’s how I’ll remember her.”
A real ‘do-er,’ says colleague
Susan O’Keefe, another long-time SWLSB staffer who is the school board’s graphics arts technician, worked alongside Elizabeth for many years as part of the closely-knit team of staff and volunteers who assure everything goes smoothly during the June lobsterfests and January gala evenings.
“Elisabeth was a do-er,” she said in an e-mail. “The last time we were together we bonded over the fact she was going to be a grandmother. Once COVID hit, I stopped seeing her. She was an asset to our foundation and she will be missed. It will be very sad to have the next one without her. I’m sorry that I didn’t have one last time to tell her how much we appreciated her.”