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Heartbroken father of woman killed in fatal fire thanks community for support
The father of the Osoyoos woman who died as a result of the serious injuries suffered in a tragic house fire two weeks ago said he has 52 years of wonderful memories and a strong belief she has “gone to a better place” to get him through these very difficult days.
Henry Hebert is the father of Deleyne Ruth Hebert Hunter, who died the day after being pulled from a horrific house fire that destroyed the home she shared with her friend Sheldon Hall in the early morning hours of January 17.
“I know from experience that she has gone to a beautiful place,” said her father, who was overwhelmed with the strong show of support during a celebration of life for his daughter that took place this past Saturday afternoon at The Owl Pub in downtown Osoyoos.
“I had a near death experience about 15 years ago from a serious car accident. I was told by doctors that I had died for a few minutes before coming back and I remember seeing all those beautiful images when you go to the other side.
“I have no doubt by daughter is in heaven and at peace as she’s with her mother and her husband Marshall, who passed away about four years ago.”
About 40 people showed up at the celebration of life to show support, share stories about his daughter and provide comfort to his family and he will be forever thankful to everyone who showed up, said Hebert.
“I just want to thank all of the people who showed up, especially all of those people who came in from out of town,” he said. “There was a big group from Rock Creek who came out and I really have to thank all of them for their support.”
His daughter had a bubbly personality and positive outlook on life and this endeared her to a lot of people, he said.
“She was a very nice person and she had a special place in her heart for older people and that’s why she spent so many years cleaning the homes of elderly citizens in this town,” he said. “She loved working for older people because they appreciated what she did and what kind of person she was.”
Deleyne liked to work hard and play hard as well, he said proudly.
“She loved to work hard, but then get home and enjoy a Budweiser with her friends,” he said trying to hold back tears. “She really enjoyed having a good time with her friends.”
Born in Winnipeg, Deleyne moved to Surrey in 1967 and graduated from high school in that community near Vancouver. She worked in the clothing department at a retail store for several years before moving to Osoyoos in the early 1980s.
Hebert said he is going to miss his daughter dearly and knows the next few months are going to be difficult, but he takes solace in the fact that he has so many fond memories of her from all phases of her life over the past 52 years.
One of her best friends, Connie Mills, made a very nice speech at the celebration of life about the many fond memories she has of Hunter.
Hunter had “flaming red hair” that she wore proudly in the same style made famous by former pinup model and actress Farrah Fawcett, she said.
“It would take us hours to get ready to go out,” said Mills. “She had great red hair and she loved to show it off.”
Redheads have a reputation for being vocal and outspoken and Hunter certainly shared some of those attributes, she said.
“We met about 15 years ago and we hit it off right away,” she said. “She was a real firecracker and didn’t have any trouble expressing her emotions.
“If she had something on her mind, she let you know about it and that’s why I loved her because she always told the truth and always let you know how she was feeling.”
Hunter’s outgoing personality and desire to have a good time meant she was always surrounded by a large group of good friends, said Mills.
“She was a lot of fun and could be the life of the party and didn’t mince her words, but that’s why we all loved her,” she said. “There’s a lot of people here today that I know and a lot I don’t know, which goes to show how many people she knew and how much people loved her.”
It’s still hard to fathom that her good friend died under such tragic circumstances, she said.
“I was at work (Mariposa Seniors residence) when I heard about the fire,” she said. “When I later found out where it had taken place and it might be at my friend’s place, I was worried but I also heard that both people inside had got out.
“Knowing Deleyne, I figured she would recover and would have a few more stories to share after she recovered. When I found out she had passed away the next day, it was just so shocking and it still is. It’s really hard to believe this has happened.”
The only solace she can take from this tragedy is many years of great memories, she said.
“We had so many good times,” she said. “We used to sit around the table and belt out Reba McIntyre tunes because she had the same red hair as Reba. I have a lot of really great memories of her and so do a lot of other people. She was one of those friends where you wouldn’t see each other for several months, then you would meet and get together again and it would be like you were never apart. I’m going to miss her a lot.”