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Ulmer Cecilia 2

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In Memory of Cecilia Aileen Ulmer

Our beautiful and remarkable mother, Cecilia Aileen Ulmer (nee Ryan), passed away peacefully at Bearbrook Retirement Residence in Ottawa on the evening of December 5th with family at her bedside after a short illness. 

Cece, as she was fondly known by friends and family, was born in Gatineau, Quebec on September 3rd, 1921 (year of birth unconfirmed by her former accountant, Phil Gervais). She was raised in Ottawa by her mother, Vina, a French-Canadian nurse, with her siblings, Eamon (Pat), Kevin (Bubby) and Alice after losing her father to pneumonia when she was only 10. She was a teenager when World War II began, a time of food rationing and terrible loss. She trained as a stenographer and on weekends she would dash off to nightclubs like the Standish Hall in Hull, Quebec, with Alice, her mischievous and well-loved sister, both dressed “to the nines” with fitted gowns, hats and gloves, looking like movie stars, dancing to the Big Bands that played there until the early hours. After the war, our mother married a tall, dashing Westerner, Allan Ulmer from Spruce Grove, Alberta. She loved her new family, the Ulmers, like they were her own and formed friendships and a love of German food like berhay and rice rolls that would last a lifetime.  The couple settled in Ottawa. Soon came children, three, in fact: Trina, Kimberley and Michael as well as a relocation to Sarnia, Ontario to a lovely split-level home close to the shores of Lake Huron. And then a fourth child, Jennifer. 

At 49, she was diagnosed with breast cancer as her marriage faltered. Life changed forever, but she stubbornly prevailed and later thrived, teaching herself to drive an old Volkswagen in the church parking lot across the street, finding meaningful work assisting job seekers, taking up ceramics and art, and finding solace in church and prayer. 

At 57, she bravely moved back to Ottawa, to be closer to family (particularly her beloved sister, Alice and her brother-in-law, Gerry). She bought an apartment, and then another and then a house. The only thing slowing her down slightly were dim-witted loan officers who saw a single mother with unstable work as too big a risk. Imagine. Summer weekends were spent at the cottage in Quyon, Quebec with Alice and Gerry, enjoying a cocktail or two whilst listening to the dulcet tones of Old Blue Eyes or Tony Bennett. Later, she bought her brother Kevin’s cottage a few houses down, called the Opera Seats because of its enviable position overlooking the river. Many an evening was spent surrounded by family there, playing Crazy 8s, checkers and Uno with her children, then grandchildren and now great-grandchildren. What a life she has lived. 

Cece will be greatly missed by her four children: Christina Ulmer (spouse John Flaim), Kimberley Ulmer (spouse Kirk Dougherty), Michael Ulmer (spouse Agnes Bongers), and Jennifer Ulmer (spouse Philip Gervais) as well as her grandchildren: Kyle MacKinnon (spouse Katie Brodhagen-MacKinnon), Aimee MacKinnon, Megan Dougherty (spouse Mer Weinhold), Emma Dougherty (spouse Vincent Siler), Sadie Ulmer, Hannah Ulmer, Madalyn Ulmer, Wade Gervais, Tessa Gervais and Grace Gervais. She will also be missed by her great-grandchildren:  Gavin, Ryan, Connor and Charlee. Cece is predeceased by her parents, Vina and Edward Ryan; brothers, Eamon and Kevin Ryan; as well as her treasured younger sister, Alice Pollack. A mass will be held in her honour at the Parish of the Annunciation of The Lord on Friday, December 10th at 11 am, followed by a small reception. For those who can’t attend, a streaming service will be available here:


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Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time. Our deepest condolences.

Trina, Kim, Michael & Jennifer; I always loved the times that I got to speak with Cece on the too infrequent chances that I had, whether at the cottage in Quyon or here in St. Stephen. I thought she was an absolutely lovely lady with a great smile & a quick, & on occasion, some well placed critique of the current state of various things. She will be missed. Will be thinking of all of you at this time. Blessings. Greg

Although I cannot be with you during this sad time, know that I am thinking of you & remembering my dear & precious friend “Mrs. Ulmer”. I have no words to express the sadness I feel in my heart. I have been so blessed to have known her since 1955. Mrs. Ulmer would always tell me to call her “Cece” as I was growing up but to me she was always Mrs. Ulmer whom I loved & respected so much, She was very resilient ,such a strong & good hearted, kind lady no matter what adversity she faced in life, Mrs. Ulmer was always my role model growing up & she will be greatly missed.
Our sincere condolences to the family . God bless her soul.

Trina, Kim, Mike and Jennifer: I was very sorry to hear of Cece’s passing. She will be missed, but you can take comfort in knowing that she had a very long (and lively!) life. She was always very kind and welcoming to me when I lived in Ottawa and I will remember that. My sincere condolences for your loss.

Trina, Kim. Mike, Jennifer and families we are so sorry to hear about Aunty Cece’s passing a vibrant brilliant woman with a beautiful soul and heart. she will live on through all of us forever.
Our deepest condolences to everyone. you are in our prayers and every thought as our hearts cry with yours
Aunty Emma, Corrie, Barry, Chad, Shanon, Sawyer, Connor, Trevor, Sydney, Lacey & Curt

It is with deepest sympathy, we are sending our love and prayers to the whole family. So sorry we can’t be there in person but we are truly connected in spirit and our love for Aunt Cece. In faith we pray God’s Grace and Peace will comfort and sustain you through this sad time. We feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to visit with Aunt Cece earlier this year and share in her excitement in receiving a birthday letter from the Queen celebrating Cece’s 100th birthday. Aunt Cece will be deeply missed and forever loved. LYL XXXXOOO Randy and Susan and Family.

My dearest Auntie CeCe you are now in the loving hands God our Father. A beautiful place where you have been welcomed by open arms and greeted by many friends and of course family that love you to their core. My beautiful Aunty CeCe RIP and soar with the angels. I love you so much and will remeber you more.

Kim, Kirk and family. My deepest and heartfelt sympathies to you and all your family. What a beautiful tribute to your Mum. She was such an amazing lady and I know you will miss her terribly. I wish I could be there for you but know that I’m only a phone call away

So many wonderful moments and years spent with my beautiful auntie. She was an inspiration to everyone that knew her.
So calm, humble and kind, yet so determined. Once she decided on something, nothing stood in her way.. She always gave the best of herself to every endeavour and to those around her. She was and will always be an inspiration to me.

I’ll be baking your marble cake recipe this afternoon and thinking of you and our times together.

Tim and I send our condolences to my cousins and their families.

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