June 20th, 1920 – January 1st, 2013
While we are so very sad to announce the passing of our beloved mother, grandmother, great- grandmother and friend, it is with great fondness that we celebrate Mona's inspiring life and amazing achievements. Born to Alfred Theophilus Lee and Ada Elizabeth Clutterbuck Lee on June 20th, 1920 in Abbotsford BC. Mona's fierce devotion and commitment to family began as a young child. Growing up in North Vancouver, Mona attended North Star Elementary and North Vancouver High School with her numerous dear friends, where she dreamed of stardom and cultivated her wonderful and witty sense of humour. As a young child, Mona's life was irrevocably touched with sadness by the unexpected death of her older sister, Marie, and by the longstanding illnesses of her parents, who suffered from tuberculosis for several years; her father passing away when she was fourteen and her mother, when Mona was twenty-five. Mona's love of her parents and extended family members in England was something she passionately shared with her own children throughout the rest of her life. At the age of 25, Mona met and married her husband, Paul Robert George Brun on her birthday in 1945 after a whirlwind courtship. Together, Mona and Paul raised four children, Maureen (Walter), Paul (Sandy), Robert (Pamela), and David (Karyn), until her husband's passing in 1981. Devoted to motherhood, Mona proudly worked as a stay at home mother until 1960, when she launched a groundbreaking career as a celebrity chef and homemaker extraordinaire. Mona's amazing career began as a Star Weekly and Dairyland demonstrator, quickly moving to roles with CBC's Food Radio Facts and CBC's Cuisine 30 Show. By 1963, Mona appeared on Culinary Capers, a television cooking show, sponsored by Woodward's, the beginning of over twenty-five years as the outstanding host of a variety of cooking shows, including Creative Home Cooking. In 1977, Mona's cookbook, Cooking with Mona, was released and immediately hit the best-seller list selling over 20,000 copies; in 2003, requests for a reissue met with similar success, once again climbing to the best-seller list for several weeks. Throughout her trailblazing career, Mona also served as vice-chair for the BC Marketing Board, president of Ventura Imports, and representative for the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, the BC Egg Producers Committee and New Zealand Lamb in Western Canada. A mainstay at the PNE and Abbotsford Agrifair, Mona consistently drew a loyal crowd to her cooking demonstrations for several decades. She worked alongside James Beard, assisting him during the taping of his cooking shows in Vancouver, with Muriel Downes of the Cordon Bleu Cooking School, and with valued friend and colleague Tony Wilson for Danish Cheese. Mona's warm demeanor, culinary expertise, and practical know-how inspired homemakers across Western Canada to bring the best to their table, sharing her love of cuisine and of entertaining family and friends. From 1969 to 2010, Mona joyfully welcomed her ten grandchildren and four great grandchildren into the world and, more importantly, into the nurturing folds of our family. In 1990, Mona married a life-long close family friend, Claude Noel Hilditch Freeman, adding another cherished family member to our clan. Grom, or Mimi as she was known to some, taught us all much about unconditional love, deep compassion, fierce patriotism, undying loyalty and infectious joy. From her contagious excitement of magical holidays and family celebrations, to her kindness and generosity towards those less fortunate, our precious Grom was the true matriarch and passionate leader of our family. Friends, fans, and family alike could not help but be drawn to Mona's witty, dynamic and sparkling personality. She possessed an uncanny ability to make those in her company feel so welcomed and valued in such a seemingly effortless and inconspicuous manner. We will always remember Grom's unique zest and appreciation for cooking, laughter, chocolate, dance, celebration, family, Happy Hour and love. A very heartfelt and sincere thanks go out to Mona's doctor, nurses, and caregivers for their outstanding support and loving care during her final years with us. In particular, we thank Dr. Bell-Irving, Patience Lee, Aveline, Paz, Miriam and Manfred. Mona's memorial service will be held on Friday, January 11, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. at St. Christopher's Anglican Church, 1068 Inglewood Avenue, West Vancouver. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Foundation Fighting Blindness.
You have taught us well, Mona, and inspired us by your exceptional greatness.
Know that you live on in our hearts. We love you, always and forever.
Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province from Jan. 5 to Jan. 6, 2013