- The Homepage of Dr. Lyn Sutherland
Dedication Page

This page is a dedication to my dear Aunt Irene and Uncle Gerry, daughter and son-in-law to Dr. Lyn Sutherland. They were her primary care-givers during her final years, and their love and devotion to her were unmatched. I feel comfort in the knowledge that they are with her right now watching over us. Below are some articles that describe the impact they had on those around them. They will truly be missed.

Long-time York staff member Irena Singleton dies of cancer
Y-File, York University, February 11, 2008
Irene Singleton

Irena Singleton, a long-time York University lab technician and a dedicated member of the York University Staff Association (YUSA), died on Feb. 6.

Affectionately known as Rena, Ms Singleton fought a six-month battle with an aggressive form of cancer. She leaves behind two daughters, their spouses and two young grandchildren, as well as many friends behind. Ms Singleton’s husband Gerry Singleton, a renowned computer programmer, died May 12, 2007, of cardiac arrest.

Ms Singleton contributed greatly to YUSA and to its members and the University community. A fixture in the Department of Biology in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, Ms Singleton was an active participant in YUSA (or YUSAPUY in its bilingual abbreviation) for 24 years. She served as a steward, a member of the grievance committee, a member of the YUSA Executive Board as first vice-president and Chair of the health & safety committee. Her insistence on keeping York employees healthy and safe resulted in the first Construction Guide for Managers being negotiated with the University. Most recently she served as a member of the nominations committee.

"Rena won several awards from the University for her devotion to a safe and healthy workplace for all," said Jane Grant, YUSA second vice-president in an e-mail to the York community. Grant, a biology prep room supervisor in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, worked alongside Ms. Singleton.

"In her work at the University she supported the development of molecular biology, biotechnology and microbiology laboratories in the Department of Biology," said Grant. "She was always rigorous in her approach to her work, and went out of her way to help students understand what they were doing in the laboratory."

Grant said that Ms Singleton will be sorely missed by her colleagues. "Appropriate ways to honour Rena's memory would be to have a glass of wine with a friend, to remember her while you cry during the last scene of La Boheme while you work in your garden, and to never ignore a situation when a wrong is being done to someone," said Grant. "We all have benefited from Rena's devotion to her work and to her daily life as a good and kind human being."

Her daughters would also like to thank all those who helped take care of Irena during her illness. A memorial service will be held in the chapel at The Simple Alternative Funeral Centre, 275 Lesmill Road (near highway 401 and Leslie Street) on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 1pm. Please bring your kazoos. A reception will follow. In memory of Irena, donations may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society, the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care or the Freeman Centre for Palliative Care.



Please visit Irene's dedication page created by her brother Mike Sutherland:


Gerry Singleton, 62: Computer wizard
The victim of intense rages semi-retired following business failure and was caregiver to 2 matriarchs
Catherine Dunphy, Obituary Writer, Toronto Star, Jun 18, 2007

Gerry Singleton

Because she loved him, she proposed.

And later didn't leave him when his intense rages were diagnosed as manic depression.

And because he loved her, Gerry Roderick Singleton took his medication despite side effects – and then gave back by caring for both their mothers as they were dying.

Rena Singleton said her husband of 37 years – a hard-wired, brilliant computer programmer who died May 12 of cardiac arrest – had been "gentled" by middle age.

When his mother was failing, Singleton was at her condo every day, making her meals, doing laundry. When Rena's mother, Dr. Lynette Sutherland, was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, he told Rena, tears in his eyes: "Bring her home. I'll look after her."

Working in the basement, he used a baby monitor to hear Sutherland on the top floor when she banged the sides of her bed with a metal bowl. He changed her diapers, borrowed rosary beads and got instructions to recite the prayers to her.

"They had a real bond," said Rena – though her mother, a tough-minded family doctor, had once threatened to have her sons give Gerry a beating if he didn't learn to control his rages.

"They were terrible flares of temper," said Rena, who would blame herself for provoking them. It was a relief for both when he was diagnosed in 1977. "He was still prickly but we saw more of the real him, the gentle side, then."

A Ryerson graduate in 1969 in electronic technology, he bought a personal computer in 1975 and set up in the basement to teach himself programming, getting daughters Jerith and Renee to learn chess on a program he created.

For a time he built computers at night while working by day helping computerize Toronto police's Jarvis St. headquarters.

He was on contract with Sun Microsystems when he had a heart attack 12 years ago. He refused to go to hospital until he'd had a cigarette and morning coffee. Later he underwent a multiple heart bypass. "He knew he was on borrowed time," Rena said.

Singleton decided to start his own business. Rena, a lab technician at York University, told him to start small but he ignored the advice and was broke within a year. "That was the mania," she said. "He dreamed big and he crashed big."

He went back to his basement computers. Semi-retired, he sang in the Italian choir, Coro Verdi, and usually had dinner waiting when Rena got home from work.

Singleton was deeply involved with the community, which offers users a free alternative to Microsoft Office, and also served as webmaster for Clue, a Canadian association in support of open source technology.

On May 12, about to mow the lawn, he collapsed and died soon after reaching hospital. He was 62.

At his wake in their home, Rena mentioned to his friends she couldn't get into his computer. They all trekked down to the basement to have a look. None could crack Singleton's program.


Please email your thoughts and memories of Irene and Gerry to be posted on this page:


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