Yvonne Anne Vandenbraak

VANDENBRAAK, Yvonne Connolly

Passed away peacefully, surrounded by her loving family on Wednesday, September 4, 2019. Devoted wife of 56 years to John. Much loved Mom of Paula (Mario) Granitto, Pamela (Kelly) and Troy (Jackie). Proud Grammy to Mathew (Theresa), Carlee (Justin), Charlotte, Ayla and Mave, and soon to be Great-Grammy. Cherished sister of June, the late Delano (Bonnie), Robert (Noreen), the late Owen (Lorraine), and Jerry. Special cousin to the late Earl (the late Isabel), Louie and Tyler. Sister-in-law of Margaret (the late Wendel), Tina, the late Helen (Mike), Ann (Don), and the late Marian. Also missed by many nieces and nephews. Yvonne will be fondly remembered by her lifelong friends, Helen, Marie & Louie, Jo, Tom & Rita.

Yvonne was born in Morell, Prince Edward Island. She was very proud of her down east heritage. She was a teacher with the Separate School Board for many years. Yvonne loved baseball, especially the Blue Jays and the Morell Chevies. She will be remembered for her love of family.

The family wishes to express their gratitude to the staff at Linhaven for their compassionate care during Yvonne's final days.

Family and friends will be received at the GEORGE DARTE FUNERAL HOME, 585 Carlton St., St. Catharines on Sunday, September 8 from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Vigil prayers will be held in the funeral home on Sunday at 3 p.m. A Funeral Mass for Yvonne will be celebrated at St. Alfred Roman Catholic Church, 272 Vine St., St. Catharines on Monday, September 9 at 11 a.m. Rite of Committal will follow at Victoria Lawn Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Vincent de Paul Society (St. Alfred Church) or to the Alzheimer Society.






Susan Kennific


September 6, 2019



My mom, June, came from a family of 6 children...4 boys, Del, Bob, Owen and Jerry, and 1 sister, Yvonne.  I assume my oldest brother, Keith, who was the first grandchild, was unable to pronounce the name Yvonne and in his attempts, he shortened it to Non.  Yvonne became Aunt Non. 


They all grew up in Morell Rear on a small, peaceful farm we lovingly call Out Home. I love looking at pictures of all of them back in that time.  Lovely black and white photos that show the way their lives were linked to each other in every day moments.  I am always struck by how they were dressed, Mom and Aunt Non in particular...elegant, fashionable, classic.   They were a good looking family and Mom and Aunt Non were beautiful.


Eventually, and sooner than children seem to do these days, the 6 Connolly’s left the farm.  Del eventually worked his way west and married Bonnie, Bob married Noreen, Mom married Dad, and  Owen (who married Lorraine), Jerry and Aunt Non headed to St. Catharines, Ontario.  It was there that Aunt Non met a handsome Dutch soccer player named John Vandenbraak and the rest is history.  They fell in love and married.  Mom had the wedding pictures of all her siblings downstairs on the wall in our rec room.   Aunt Non is wearing a beautiful tailored gown.  They both looked radiant with happiness.  Mom also had some coloured pictures of the bride and her maids...she in her beautiful gown and they in their incredibly chic, knee length, bright red dresses, like something out of a fashion magazine. I loved those photos.


Aunt Non and John had three children, Paula, Pam and Troy, and it is here that my true memories begin.  The Vandenbraaks came home every summer for two weeks, without fail.  Perhaps they may have missed a time or two over the years but I can’t remember when.  Actually, Owen, Lorraine and Shawn and Jason and Jerry also came home every year and often Del, Bonnie and Tommy and Tracey as well.  It was the highlight of our summer, our year really, to go Out Home and have them already there, the place buzzing with energy that only children can bring.  Add Bob, Noreen, Mike, Pat and Shannon as well as Mama, Mame, the much adored Louie, and of course Keith, Cheryl and Colin, and it was heaven to me.  And if we got there just at the right time, we would see Jerry come down the lane, slowly, deliberately, in his newest Corvette.  Unbeatable!


I have so many wonderful memories of those times...the boys taking in the hay, smoky fires in the yard to keep away the bugs, trips to Lakeside beach with John, him treating us to ice cream at McEwen’s store.  Pretty sure Mom and Aunt Non stayed behind, probably grateful for the temporary peace and a chance to have some time with Mama and Mame.  So many memories of the house full of people, every bed, cot and couch occupied at night. Waking up to the sound of Mame lighting the wood stove, the absolute darkness when the lights were turned off at night, the whine of mosquitoes in our ears, Paula terrifying Pam with tales of giant spiders found in the parlour, Aunt Non soothing Troy’s tears as she washed his hair in the kitchen sink, Mame’s valiant, but ultimately unsuccessful, attempts at hiding the sweets from us.


And then at the end of two weeks the Vandys, and all of the others, were gone.  Aunt Non always wanted to say goodbye to Mame and Mama the night before, as they left so early in the morning. I know the real reason was her sadness in leaving them.  Goodbyes were hard.  Once in a while, I got a glimpse of their car headed down the lane, if I was up early enough.  I would go to the parlour to try and find some sign of them, something forgotten, an unmade bed...but the room was as if they had never been there.  Out Home was a quiet and sad place in the days after our relatives from away had left.


Even when the kids had grown and started their own lives, Aunt Non and John, Owen and Lorraine and Jerry would still come home.  Wonderful times at family BBQ’s at Bob and Noreen’s, hours spent in Mom’s living room talking. So many conversations with Aunt Non about sports, family history, the news and much loved recollections of Mama, Daddy Bill and Mame. 


And then, one year, the last visit came.  We all knew what was happening as we had seen it with Mama and Mom and Owen.  We knew Aunt Non would not be home again.  The sorrow at this realization was intense and heavy and devastating.


Aunt Non was all about family.  She was the centre, the driving force, the heartbeat of her family.  Her children, husband and grandchildren were absolutely everything to her and she to them. She shared her love with those of us lucky enough to be her bothers, sister, nieces and nephews.  She has imprinted our lives in countless ways. I will carry her in my heart for the rest of my days.  Her beauty, style grace, sense of humor and fun, her smile....I am picturing her now, daintily eating toast with jam, wearing her slippers. Maybe I got my love of slippers from her. 


I often find myself saying that time only goes in one direction. But I take comfort in the belief that our beloved Aunt Non is simply somewhere else... with her parents, with Owen and Del and Mame. That their spirits are intertwined as they were in life. That they are with us every day.  That these intertwined spirits will grow as the years go by, until we are all together again.



In Your Final Days


In your final days, an unfamiliar place became your home.

You heard music that brought you back to less difficult times.

Stories of fiddle festivals and baseball were told.


In your final days, we talked about wonderful trips to PEI.

The roles of a mother and child reversed, and I wanted to ease your pain.

You opened your eyes and saw us in you. I said it was okay to say good bye and that you did everything you needed to do.


In your final days we were told how strong your heart was. We looked in wonder and understood the sacrifices of a mother.

In all our sadness, our family grew stronger. We prayed for suffering to end, but wanted one more day.


In your final days, we lived a lifetime.


                        Love Troy and Family