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To some, Carol might have seemed ordinary. Her favourite sandwich was peanut butter and honey, her snack of choice Old Dutch plain potato chips, her favourite flower the carnation. She drove a sensible car and lived in the same apartment for years.

But to those who knew her, Carol was extraordinary. Born in Regina, the last of Don and Ruth's three children, Carol remained a proud westerner at heart.

Her no-nonsense, confident approach to life began early. In a grainy home movie, she flashes her trademark smile while taking tickets for a grade-school play. Not one to claim the spotlight, she was happy to toil behind the scenes, where dedication and dependability became her hallmarks.

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Carol graduated from York University and Seneca College in Toronto. Her work ethic and commitment quickly propelled her up the career ladder to become human resources manager at London Children's Connection, having earned her Certified Human Resources Professional designation.

Travel was her passion. Visiting Yellowknife with her sister, Maureen, Carol cheerfully pronounced the -30 C wind chill a "wonderful dry cold." From Ireland, her ancestral homeland, she proudly sent a postcard of Eyre Square.

Most important to Carol were her close-knit family and her dear husband Phill Vanderpost, a wedding photographer. Their early dates often featured Carol assisting at shoots. Phill soon proposed, and when the happy day arrived it was replete with Carol's personal touches, such as stuffed Dalmatian toys as table centrepieces. A true Disney fan, she also had a real thing for penguins.

Few realized Carol suffered from Crohn's disease, a chronic, debilitating condition. Even as a liver transplant loomed in her future, Carol preferred to focus on the positive. She and Phill longed for parenthood, but Carol's illness made that a difficult proposition. She was ecstatic when she became pregnant, only to suffer heartbreak when her son, Mark, died at birth.

Although she felt unwell last fall, Carol was determined not to cancel a 10th wedding anniversary trip to Washington. The day after she and Phill returned, she rose early to go to work, but instead fell ill and was rushed to the emergency room. Diagnosed with advanced colon cancer, her symptoms long masked by her Crohn's medication, she never left the hospital.

Hundreds attended her visitation and funeral, where her brother Doug delivered a moving eulogy. The grief etched on so many faces proved Carol was anything but ordinary.

Natalie Rowe is Carol's lifelong friend.

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