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'I was in awe of her:' Residents, friends remember Diane Deans at celebration of life

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A celebration of life was held Saturday afternoon for former long-time city councillor Diane Deans.

Deans died May 14 at the age of 65-years-old, five years after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She represented the Gloucester-Southgate area for nearly three decades.

Family, friends, colleagues and loved ones gathered at the Infinity Convention Center for the service and reception. The event was open to the public.

"I'm remembering her as a tenacious, passionate councillor and a friend, someone who inspired me, someone who mentored me, someone who meant a lot to me," said Ottawa city councillor Theresa Kavanagh.

"She was someone who brought so much intelligence to the job. I was always in awe of her of when she opened her mouth and was ready to speak because I knew it was going to be good."

"She was passionate, caring, inspiring with high ethical standards," said Joan Weinman, a friend who spoke from the podium at the service. "A strong woman with a vision."

Each guest was gifted a pin with a heart and her name to wear at the celebration, symbolizing how Deans wore her heart on her sleeve. The service included music, poems and sentiments shared by those closest to her.

"Back in the old days, she always had the power to inspire affection in people. And I see from today, that that power sort of continued throughout her lifetime," said Kirk Falconer, anther friend of Deans.

Flags at Ottawa's City Hall were lowered to half mast from sunrise to sunset on Saturday to mark her passing. Deans, known as a trailblazer for women in local politics, had an impact until her final days.

"I was just so inspired on her view on women in politics. She wants more women in politics, so she made me feel empowered and that was really important to me to have somebody like her who's a trailblazer, to be there and say, go, go, go," said Kavanagh.

Last week, a day after her passing, city council voted unanimously to rename the Greenboro Community Centre after Deans.

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