Norene was born on November 4, 1926 on a farm outside of Mitchell, Ontario, one of four daughters (Orell, Pearl, Norene and Jean) born to William Hawley McKenzie and Elvira McKenzie (nee Parrott). During the Depression the family moved from the farm to Stratford where Hawley and Vera, as they were known, ran a small convenience store. During World War II teenaged Norene contributed to the home front by working at a factory in Hespeler, Ontario making soldiers’ uniforms. Post war, and being the studious daughter, Norene was given the opportunity to continue schooling beyond Stratford Central Secondary School. At that time the options for a young woman were secretary, teacher, or nurse, so Norene chose nursing and enrolled in Toronto General Hospital’s Nursing program, graduating in 1949.
While working at TGH, Norene met a handsome, fun loving surgeon named Ian Clemes who self-reportedly said when he first met Norene, “that is the woman I will marry.” And they did wed on April 14, 1951. Norene was an operating room nurse at TGH until 1953 when she started to raise a family. In 1956 the family moved to Guelph where Norene continued to focus on her growing family. The family grew to six children – Blake, Barb, John, Brad, Jill, and Blair. Norene was devoted to raising her family, and a generation of students at both College Avenue Public School and Centennial CVI came to know that the end of the school year and the start of summer were celebrated with a Pool Party at the Clemes household. Norene’s involvement with her children and their lives led to her receiving an Outstanding Involvement Award from Centennial CVI for her volunteer activities. When her marriage ended, Norene returned to the workforce in 1974 as the first female salesperson at CJOY Radio in Guelph. During her 39-year career at CJOY/CKLA/Magic (retiring when she was 86!) Norene was also the first female sales manager at the company. In her lengthy career, Norene mentored countless colleagues – “we learned everything about sales and valuing people from Norene” many said.
Norene passed away peacefully on December 15th surrounded by her five surviving children (Brad passed away tragically in 2009) and granddaughter Clarisse. Norene is also survived by her sister Jean Wagner, sons-in-law Brent Lang and Joe Buszowski, daughters-in-law Jeni Mah and Anne (Oliver) and her seven other grandchildren Andrew, Nathan, Reagan, Mischi, Josephine, Kian, and Kailey.
The Clemes family wish to thank Mom’s other family at CJOY/MAGIC, including her former clients, for their dedication and friendship during Norene’s career and retirement. The Clemes family would also like to thank the staff of the Guelph General Hospital, 7th floor east, notably Jenny, Katie, and Teresa, for their dedication and compassion.
During her life Norene impressed her children, clients, and co-workers with her strong values and steadfast wisdom. Norene was seamlessly selfless, resilient and fearless in her dedication to anyone who was fortunate to know her. She will be missed for her friendship, counsel, generosity, afghan blankets, and cookies. It is time to rest now Norene.
Friends will be received at Gilbert MacIntyre & Son Funeral Home, Dublin Chapel, 252 Dublin St N, Guelph, on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 from 6-9pm. A private family service and interment will be held at a later date. A Celebration of Norene’s Life will be held on February 23, 2019 in the Guelph area. Details to come.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guelph, Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington, or another children’s organization would be appreciated by the family. Donation cards are available at the funeral home (519-822-4731), or online condolences may be left at www.gilbertmacintyreandson.com.