The Oilers had just won another Stanley Cup, and Wendy McKeown’s family was gathered on her couch, watching and cheering their favourite team. Everyone was ecstatic. It was her happy place.
Wendy grew up in Deux-Montagnes, Que. but moved to Edmonton in her early 20s and quickly adopted the Oilers as her own. She worked as an usher at the old Northlands Coliseum and watching the team became a family tradition she cherished. When Wayne Gretzky got traded, she left work crying because she was so devastated.
Wendy had two children, a daughter and a son, and four grandchildren with whom she loved to spend time. Heather McKeown, Wendy’s daughter, said her mother brought positive energy wherever she went.
Died on April 23, 2020
“Wendy would walk into a room, and she was the life of the party,” Heather says.
If there were 10 people in the room, she would talk to each one, Heather says. She would go out to a restaurant and leave as best friends with the server. She loved working for the Edmonton Journal’s customer service department, because she got to talk to subscribers, and make new friends, every day.
But Wendy had her dark bouts too. “She was a mental health warrior,” Heather says.
She struggled with bipolar disorder and depression her whole life. She taught her children to have empathy for others, especially those suffering from mental illness, Heather says. Her greatest lesson was to treat everyone with acceptance and love.
This story was first published in MacLean’s as part of a collaborative project with Canadian journalism schools to document the lives of people who have died from COVID-19. To learn more about the project and to read the other obituaries, click here.