Wendy Ladner-Beaudry would not have wanted people to feel pain or regret at her death.
That was the reminder in a message from Olympics CEO John Furlong, read out by Wendy's brother Peter, for the more than one thousand people who came out Saturday to a memorial for the avid athlete, sports advocate and dedicated mother. Her murder on April 3 while running in Vancouver's forested Pacific Spirit Park has stunned the city.
"She would tell you she's all right, it's okay to smile again. She would say there's much to do and carry on with what you can, no matter what," continued Mr. Furlong's message to the crowd that filled the cathedral-like atrium of the University of B.C.'s Life Sciences Building. In keeping with that directive, the hour-long celebration of her life included some jokes, provoked occasional laughter, and focused on her achievements and spirit. It began and ended with haunting music sung by the Elektra Choir. There was no mention of the brutal way the 53-year-old was killed or the still-unresolved mystery of who her killer was.
Her husband, Michel, who placed a photograph of their wedding day on the podium before speaking, talked tearfully about his "magical sexy friend" who would have laughed if she could see her him wearing a suit - a rare occasion for the skier and outdoor sportsman.
Her daughters Maya, 21, and Jenna, 16, evoked the image of a mother who was a constant loving presence.
Some of the most emotional tributes of the afternoon came from two generations of women who knew her well: the friends of her young daughters and her own friends from high school 40 years ago.
"All of Maya's friends are grateful for having known Wendy. We're all stronger and kinder people because of her. I know as all of us continue to grow, we will do so with Wendy's beautiful spirit in us," said Kate Wong, a friend of 21-year-old Maya, speaking through tears.
"Mama Wendy is what all the girls called her," said Lindsay Tobias, who spoke together with 16-year-old Jenna Beaudry. "She took interest in our lives. She put trust in every one. And every story she shared had a lesson forever, whether it was how to clean a kitchen counter properly or the proper way to charge a phone, those little stories will stick with me for the rest of my life."
Her high-school friends, the daughters of prominent lawyers and business leaders in the city, spoke of a life dedicated to creating community.
"It came clear to me that she was a gatherer and a weaver," said Sally Ann DuMoulin. "Well, Wend, we are thankful for all the weaving you've done. In the past week, I have been comforted by the amazing fabric you created."
Many others spoke about her contributions to the sports world, where she worked with KidSport B.C. to bring athletic activities to low-income families, and her own athletic achievements, which included competition-level swimming and skiing. The service drew a large crowd which included Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and provincial NDP candidate Mel Lehan. Her brother, Peter, was a city councillor and a mayoral candidate in last fall's election. Many in attendance spent time before and after the ceremony gathering around TV screens that rolled through pictures of Ms. Ladner-Beaudry's life.
Mr. Furlong, who got to know Ms. Ladner-Beaudry well through her volunteer work with the Olympics, has offered a spot to the Beaudry family in upcoming Olympic torch relay, something her husband says would have thrilled his wife.
"She would be tickled to death to know one of her girls would be running the torch relay," said Michel Beaudry in an interview earlier in the week. "I'd like to see the three of us doing it."
Police have released little information about how or where Ms. Ladner-Beaudry was killed and continue to say they cannot specify whether it was a random or targeted killing.
Ms. Ladner-Beaudry's body was found around 3 p.m. Friday very close to an entry point to the park five blocks from her house and right next to Southwest Marine Drive. The park was closed for five days while police investigated, but has now been re-opened. Friends led a walk and run through the park Friday that drew about one thousand people as a way of taking the area back for the public.
The park, which borders the city's wealthy west-side neighbourhoods, is extremely popular with runners and walkers.