I first met Lorraine McNeil fairly early on in my tenure with the Times . I went to her home on Horseshoe Lake to interview her and her friend Maureen James – known in comedy duo format as Lo and Mo – for a story for the paper.
I didn’t know what I was getting into. Who were these women? It was like stumbling into a Lucy and Ethel skit. One-liners flying thick as mosquitoes. And the laughter. Roaring. Raucous. Contagious. When Lorraine laughed you laughed because just her laughter just the sound of it was so mirthful and joyous.
The last time I saw Lorraine was at a Haliburton Hospital Auxiliary dinner last fall. As usual she was positive upbeat and genuinely curious and concerned about others. She asked how my daughter was doing and we joked about my sleep deprivation.
She laughed which made me laugh.
Lorraine passed away last weekend and her passing marks a great loss for the community of Haliburton County. Some people are exceptional in their sheer presence in what they are. Lorraine was like that. Brimming with positively. Exuding warmth. Glowing with it.
A beacon of light.
Community-minded Lorraine gave her time and resources to a number of events and organizations in the county. Some may recognize her as Elf sidekick to Mike Jaycock’s Dame Beatrice at the annual Highlands Christmas Shindig a fundraiser for heat charity Fuel for Warmth.
She was an on-air personality at volunteer radio station Canoe FM where she and Jaycock regularly co-hosted shows together.
In a social media tribute to his friend and co-host Jaycock wrote:
“Lorraine and I truly clicked. She was funny quick-witted and her laugh echoed throughout the county. Most important of all we trusted each other. We knew that we were there to help each other and to produce entertaining radio . . . you can only accomplish that successfully if there is genuine trust and caring between you. There will be a great void for me and I will miss her companionship on the air. As the folks at Canoe FM will tell you when we were together there was joyous laughter on and off the air while we were in the studio. Lorraine just had a way of lifting your spirits and making you glad to be in that moment.”
Lorraine’s passing leaves a void in the community but we must remember to keep laughing loudly and truly from deep inside ourselves. It’s how Lorraine lived and undoubtedly what she would want us to do.
Deepest condolences to Lorne and Lorraine’s family and friends.