A Life well lived…

rene“Do not be sad for me, I have been so fortunate to have lived the life I did.  Celebrate what I have accomplished and what we all did together.  Take nothing for granted and live your life with enthusiasm and laughter.”

Rene passed away peacefully this morning, October 17th, in the hands of family.  Her brave fight continued until the very end, keeping with the approach she had her whole life. Her smile, love of life and competitive spirit will be etched in our memories forever.

The support we have received through this past year has been humbling and provided us both the strength we needed to endure the pain of the past year.  We can all begin the healing process now and all should take comfort with the fact she lived her life to the absolute fullest and that she passed away at peace with her world.  May she watch over us all now.

52 thoughts on “A Life well lived…

  1. Truly blessed to call Rene a very dear friend. You will be so terribly missed. Thank you for making Jason so happy. You will be in our thoughts and prayers, always. Adam and Jillian

  2. Jason, Jane, Burt, Carol, Anne & family,
    Rene is an amazing source of inspiration to our family. Our family is privileged to be able to say we know a true Canadian Athlete who proudly represented Canada with her talent and grace.

    The last year has proved what an amazing athlete and person she was.

    Take Care,
    Ashley, Dean, Brooke-Lynn, Cameron & Eric Barich

  3. My condolences Jason. Rene was a great women, & I am so fortunate to have met her and you over the last few years. I will remember her wishes to live life to the fullest. Stay strong & brave just like Rene was until the end. With warmest thoughts, prayers, and love, Enrico

  4. Jason,

    I have watched a truly remarkable story of love, bravery,and friendship unfold over the last 12 months. I have been moved and inspired by Rene, yourself and the wonderful people that integrated their lives in to yours. I am proud of all of you.

    Be well Jason. and God bless a remarkable woman and her husband.

    Jerry Gust

  5. Dear Jason,
    My thoughts are with you. You had a wonderful life with Rene. Sometimes life isn’t fair! You have many happy memories that will sustain you in the future.

  6. Rene left her mark on our hearts and this world forever. We will miss her very much but will always have her in our mind with that amazing smile. You could see her heart through her smile. Sending you our love. Sherry and Craig xo

  7. Dear Jason,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My favourite memories that I’ll cherish are running the Terry Fox 10K with Rene and going to the Senator afterwards for champagne and OJ, meeting Rene at Jill Thomson’s house and losing many matches to her, always admiring her laser focussed shots and fight. She was so kind to play mixed doubles with my son, Kyle when he was 12 at the TLTC right as she ended her long amazing career. It was so generous of her. I will be with Jill tonight and we will relive our favourite Rene stories and drink some red wine. Please pass on my love to the rest of the family too.


  8. Dearest Rene,
    Thank you for being such a loving, warm-hearted friend. Brian and I loved visiting you and Jason in Chicago – you always made us feel so welcome and comfortable in your beautiful home. Thank you for making Jason so happy and for loving him so truly – he lit up whenever you entered a room. Thank you for the shared laughs, the book discussions, and the glasses of white wine shared with many great meals. We’re honoured and blessed to have known you, and we’re so glad you got to hold Iona when we first brought her home from China. You’ll always be in our hearts.
    With our very deepest love,
    Jen, Brian and Iona xo

    • JB,
      Your relationship with Rene has been amazing and truly inspirational. I am so proud of how you both have handled this past year. I admire your strength, courage and optimism. You are an amazing man. And Rene an amazing woman. Together you were phenomenal. She will be dearly missed, but will be in your heart forever. Love you always. Susan

  9. Jason.
    I am so sorry for your loss. Although I didn’t know Rene, I am moved by her strength and fight for life. She must have been quite the lady to keep up with you and even beat you in tennis. Know that her story won’t be lost, she has reminded me to be thankful for everyday that I wake up healthy and to focus on what I do have rather then what I do not. Thank you for sharing your journey, and I hope you find some solace knowing that your story of love and life has been truly inspiring. Kathleen (Brandson) Spratt

  10. Jason and all your loving family,
    I’m so very sorry for your loss. She was such fun!
    The first time I saw Rene was at the exhibition match she played at The Club against the
    best male player they could find. Being an old player I was enthused to come and watch.
    She sure made the gals proud!
    Not long after she joined the 18 holers and I was lucky to play with her several times.
    She picked it up so easily it was aggravating. She made a lot of friends very quickly and you
    both have inspired us with strength and grace.
    My very deepest sympathy to you all. We will miss her too.
    Sincerely, Mary Muno

  11. I knew Rene a very long time ago, from the Sarnia Riding Club. She was a sparkplug back then, and her life continued to show that energy and dynamic quality. I was shocked today to hear of her passing, and I wish her family peace and loving memories.

  12. My deepest sympathy. For me, Rene will always be the teenager coming in from Sarnia, going from tournament to tournament and smiling all the time. My mother just reminded me of the time she came to play a tournament in Toronto and forgot her tennis shoes and had to borrow a pair from my younger brother, as they were the only ones small enough to fit her. It was always nice seeing her and it was an honour to know her. She was a wonderful person.

    Allan Stitt

  13. Dear Jason,

    I can find no words right now to express our deep sorrow for this loss. Just carry her in your heart forever.
    Lots of love,
    Cheryl & Fred

  14. A fighter til the end Rene , you left so much to admire. We will miss our visits with you. Thank you for the good times, the hospitality and the friendship. xoxo Joce and Chris

  15. Dear Jason
    Even though we haven ‘t seen you for many, many years, we have often heard about you from the McLartys. We were both so sad to hear about your terrible loss and you have our deepest sympathy, I wish we had known Rene as she sounds like such a remarkable person. Were’t you two lucky to have had such a close relationship! I hope your wonderful memories will give you strength in the days to come.
    Anne and Bill Trussler

  16. Dear Jane, Burt, Carol, Jay, Lee, Anne and Jason (who I never met).
    My deepest sympathies on your loss. I had no idea Rene was ill and am really sorry to hear of the horrible year all of you must have endured. My days at the Sarnia Riding Club were much better thanks to Rene and all of the Simpson family. I remember Rene as a fighter on the court but also, a good jokester off the court. There were a lot of laughs around that club thanks to her. I followed her career and was pleased to see the numerous successes through the years. I enjoyed the chance to re-connect with Carol and her family a few years ago at the hockey rinks. Just really, really sorry. All the best.

  17. Hi Rene.
    You will always have a place in my heart, I only have fond and happy memories of our time together. Love and miss you forever. Matt

  18. Dear Jason,

    Please know that you and your family are in our thoughts today. We hope that your outstanding happy memories together will help you through this difficult time. Rene is truly inspirational to so many.

    Thinking of you,

    Julie Cieply and Len Collins

  19. Dearest “Followed by loving friends and family”,
    We never had the moment to meet wonderful, amazing Rene. How we wish we did. We have followed this to support and love her family. How she lived and loved has definitely defined her. I have missed out in meeting this person that you all know and love. She and this web page has inspired my girls and I to love more, hug more and are over flowing with love. You really measure ones life in love.
    Jason and family…. Your love for Rene is immeasurable. Such courage…. Bravery. It really, really isn’t fair. There are no “right” answers or posts. Just please know from the bottom of our sad hearts… We love you, support you and have thought of you each day of this battle. Hardest words to say are goodbye.
    With love,
    Hannah and Her Girls

  20. Dearest jay
    I just finished reading the beautiful words you wrote to Rene and to everyone today. You are an incredible person with such strength and love. The two of you this past year have been truely inspiring. Take care of yourself my friend. Sending you so much love.

  21. My deepest sympathy goes out to you and Rene’s Family!! I’m so shocked and saddened by the loss of her life!!
    I will always remember her smile, she was such a fighter on the court!!
    God Bless!

  22. If I cover my ears, I see a standing ovation. If I close my eyes, I hear an echoing roar of applause. It’s for the two of you – Rene, and brother JB.

    You both should be so very proud. Not just over the past year; but for both of your lives you have unknowingly given so much. You have caused family, friends and strangers alike to stop, understand, appreciate, and re-calibrate the compass.

    You were both fighting a battle, from two different sides. Yet, again you have shown your strengths together – Remarkable.

    Tatum and I cherish you both, past, present, and future. We thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    As for that standing ovation, ironically, it’s only the intermission. You both have so much more to offer, so many teachings of courage, love, support, respect and determination yet to share.

    With Love, Chris & Tatum.

  23. Hi Jason,

    I am sure you don’t know me, but I played tennis with Rene on tour. I didn’t know about her cancer until today because a friend saw it on Facebook. I want you to know I am sorry for your loss. I remember Rene always with a smile on her face and always her determined tenacity to compete and win on the court. I am sure she was the same in this match of her life. I wish you all the best during this time! Debbie

  24. Jason, my heart is heavy with sorrow for you. In days gone by, I would be writing this note on some paper and you would see the tear stains there among the heartfelt words that can only express how I feel for your loss, unable to capture the emotions for which there aren’t any words.

    We all have our friends and family that we love, but that is not the love we have reserved for that someone special. Rene is the one to whom you gave your greatest love, illustrated so very well by how you stood with her over the last year; supported her in her greatest time of need, and announced so clearly in your letter.

    It is tempting to say that her absence will leave a hole in your life, but I think it would be nicer to call it a reserved space. It will always be there and it will always be a part of you, but that space is not empty – it is filled not just with the memories of your time together, but with her tenacity, joy of life, competitive spirit and enduring love. Those things that defined Rene are now a part of you – in that special space. In time, when you consider that space, it will not bring sorrow – it will make you smile because you will remember what made her special in a way that only you can know.

    God bless you now with the peace of knowing her suffering is over. Your family and friends are here for you.

    Much love,

  25. A fierce fighter and competitor on the court and in life,
    A devoted friend, daughter, sister, aunt & wife

    Her final opponent was relentless and unforgiving,
    It did not play fair, or care she hadn’t finished living!

    With all that it threw at her, she fought back time and again
    With dignity, poise and grace up until the bitter end.

    Questions unanswered, faith in a quandary
    A huge hole in loved one’s lives where Rene should be

    Hold on to the memories and honor an extraordinary woman
    Who may be gone from this earth, but will never be forgotten

  26. I was so sad to hear of the news yesterday. I remember Renee’s intensity on the court all her junior years. It was an enviable quality, and inspiring to me. It is not fair in life to leave us so early. She was a very good role model, in so many ways. I have not been in touch with Renee for many years, evidenced by the fact that I didn’t even know that she was ill, but she was the kind of person that you didn’t need to know her well to know what she was made of. She was a good teacher, whether she knew it or not, and proud to be Canadian, and represent our country. She will never be forgotten, and her story should be told for all others to be inspired by her, as I was. I wish for all of her family and friends to be consoled by all of the great memories of her, and all that she accomplished, in a pretty short period of time. The void will always be there, as it has been for me since I lost my father recently, but the wonderful memories are so precious, and important, as they definitely help fill the void.

  27. Dear Jay – what a remarkable woman, what a remarkable couple, what a remarkable person you are Jay. Thinking of you and sending much love.

  28. We knew Rene through her parents and by watching her tennis games on TV. She was such a resilient player, fighting for every point. She lost the fight we will all lose in the end, but few will lose with such grace as she. Her death was reported last night on CTV news with a highlight reel, such was her impact on Canadian tennis. We send our deepest condolences to the family. Chan and Linda

  29. Rene always fought hard. I remember her determination in practice sessions to run down every ball, and always give her best. The heart of a true champion!

    My heartfelt condolences go out to Jason, and all who have been touched by Rene’s
    beautiful presence.

  30. Jason, We have followed your journey with Rene and send love, prayers, strength and memories to you at this time. Rene has and always will be an inspiration to you and everyone she knew. She was special and will always be in our hearts forever.
    Please use your friends for guidance into the future and keep your faith that you are one special man with love beyond all reason. We send our sympathy, Barrie & Bud

  31. Jay,

    Laura and I offer our deepest condolences to you. Both you a Rene showed extreme courage and strength over the last year and have been an inspiration example of what it means to be a couple.

    Rich and Laura

  32. I was saddened to read the story of Rene’s passing in the newspaper this morning. Although I had not seen Rene in over 20 years, I used to work at Tournament Park Tennis Club and would watch her practice there. She would always make a point of saying ‘hi’, and to a young tennis player, it meant the world to me that Rene would always take the time to talk to me.

    Please accept my sincere condolences.


  33. We have followed her journey over the past year and found strength in your way of dealing with extremely adverse conditions. We offer sympathy in your loss, and admiration for Rene’s strength and endurance.
    We share the love
    Ray and Mary

  34. Dear Jason,
    We, at Tennis Québec, would like to express our sincere admiration for Rene. October 17th, 2013 was a sad day for Canadian tennis. We lost one of our best Canadian players, a great ambassador and an excellent Fed Cup coach and captain. We will keep strong memories of her too short passage with us and her legacy will stay in our mind forever. Accept our sincere condoleances.

    Jean-François Manibal, Réjean Levesque and the Tennis Québec team members

  35. Jay,

    Rene will live on in our hearts and memories. Thank you for sharing your journey over the past year. Such courage, determination and grace. A testament to the power of love and living life to its fullest. Much love, Cheryl & Andrew

  36. Jason. My deepest sympathies. Rene was a special woman who was always smiling and always ready to help out. She helped me a lot early in my career when I was organizing a chartiy golf tournament. Rene called all her friends, got us some autographed raquets for the charity auction and even helped sell raffle tickets. I’ll never forget her for that. And that smlle could light up a room. She was a great interview as well. My life is richer for having met her. The world lost a terrific person. May your pain pass quickly.
    Mark Hebscher.

  37. Dear Jason,

    I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. I hadn’t seen Rene for many years, however she has been on my mind constantly these past weeks, since learning of her illness. I’ve been pouring over the pictures and posts from this site, and so moved by all of it. Rene and I didn’t know each other well, but there was a time about 10 years ago when we saw each other often through mutual friends, Kathy and Suzanne. Recently I’ve been fondly reminded of her great, big smile and the distinctive sound of her voice. I remember many fun nights at the Rebel House in Toronto with Rene and friends. I’m glad that you two found each other, and I’m just so sad that she is gone. Thank you for sharing the journey of this last year with us.

    I’m sending you my deepest condolences,


  38. I have many great memories of Rene from my childhood in Sarnia…swimming in the lake, playing hide and seek in the neighbourhood and of course, the Riding Club. Rene was the friend that challenged me to ‘step outside the box’…she would be shocked to learn I started to run a few years ago. I think of her each time I run the streets she once ran every morning. I am sorry to have lost touch with her over the years. I am so saddened by her death. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Susan Hawrylow (Beaton)

  39. Although we only met Rene on a few occasions (and you Jason, only once), we have always felt a very close kinship with her as we have followed her life and career through our long and close relationship with her parents Burt and Jane, and more recently through this web-site. Please accept our most hearfelt condolences on your and the world’s loss. Words cannot really express how we feel.

    Ellen and Bob Robinson

  40. I had the pleasure of knowing and attending TCU w/ Rene. Although we have not kept in touch I am shocked by this news but not surprised at her posts and her fight. She always fought. She had a grit and a grind like no other. My prayers to her family

  41. Dear Jason,
    I never met you, but you sound like you were the perfect match for Rene. I knew Rene when she was a little girl at the Sarnia Riding Club. She was such a sweetheart. She sparkled with laughter and the kids loved to hang out with her. I have just read a lot of the postings and the newscast. It’s wonderful to see what a delightful woman she became. I feel honoured to have known her for those few years when I worked at the club. My thoughts are with you and your family at this time. God bless. Sincerely, Jill Barber

  42. On the plane to Chicago I wrote a tribute to Rene which I will save for the memorial services. This note is for you Jason. This is what I wanted to say to you this morning over coffee but couldn’t control my emotions.

    Jason, I want to acknowledge and express my deep appreciation for the impact you had in Rene’s life the past 9 years. Your perfect love for Rene, your shared passion for a healthy and athletic lifestyle, your sense of humour, and your joy in supporting each other’s successes is a reflection of the power of the bond you shared.

    Your ability to put aside your own needs to love and support Rene in her darkest moments this past year was unbelievably brave. I have been and will continue to be so proud of Rene’s grace and courage but I am also incredibly proud of you as her husband and best friend.

    Have no regrets, you gave Rene the best of yourself and then some.
    Jason you gave Rene the greatest gift imaginable……..your love for Rene enveloped her like a warm blanket and she always felt happy, safe, loved, and content. Rene’s greatest joys were creating a beautiful home for you, making a wonderful meal for you, chatting with you, sitting together on the porch or the couch with a glass of wine, going for a walk with Sherman & Sadie, planning your next trip or simply going down the street for a coffee.

    I can’t begin to imagine the pain you are in but I will keep my promise to Rene that I and our family will help to take care of you in any way we can. Our door is always open at Big Hill, NSW and as Mark told you we will keep some coldies in the fridge for you.

    Thank you for sharing your journey through this website. One day soon, I hope your tears will become smiles as you fondly remember your wonderful life with Rene.

  43. To Jason and the Simpson family,
    I went to high school with Rene and remember still how vivacious and daring she was. I’m not even sure how our paths crossed, but I’m thankful for the friendship we shared during that brief time. Rene was so different from myself, and I benefitted greatly from seeing life from her perspective. It’s with shock that I learned the news of her passing, not having heard previously about her illness. I can’t imagine how devastating a loss this must be for you all. I felt I had to reach out and offer my condolences, despite not having seen Rene over the past many years. From time to time, I would hear news of her career and proudly remember having been friends, when we used to gossip at movie theatres and enjoying life to its fullest as teenagers do.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you all, as I shed a few tears today.

  44. Jason,Jane,Burt,Carol,Anne and Family,
    I am deeply saddened of your loss. Rene and I met when we were around 10 years old, my first tennis match was against her in Sarnia. We played against each other many times after that. Rene was a great competitor and I will always have fond memories of her. Burt and Jane were very thoughtful and gracious to send a lovely condolence letter when my father passed. Would it be possible to get their address. Again, my condolences to you and the families.

  45. Jason, Jane, Burt, Carol, Ann & Family

    I will miss seeing Rene at some of our family gatherings at Jay’s and in the past at Carol and Burt’s old home.. Always had a good laugh listening to Rene and Bruce interact. My heart goes out to all of you. Jason she will live on in your heart and memories forever. Carol, this is a huge loss to you and Jay and the kids as you were all very close. I hope you can all feel my hugs and my love.

  46. I’m hoping all family and friends will post their tributes to Rene from today’s Celebration of Life. It was heartwarming to hear everyone speak so lovingly about Rene.

    My youngest sister Rene is and was a force to be reckoned with: on & off the court, on & off the golf course, in the kitchen, at social events, and most importantly in her personal relationships. Loving wife, best friend & soul mate to Jason, passionately loyal & loving to her family and friends, devoted “Mom” to Sherman & Sadie, incredibly patriotic, fiercely competitive, and never afraid to speak her mind.

    Shortly after Rene’s diagnosis I created the PINK POWER acronym and gave the three sisters matching pink bracelets to provide Rene with tangible reminders of our love and support.
    Rene had her own tried and true approach to everything in life. She would learn as much as possible about her opponent and then carefully plan her fight using every weapon and tactic in her repertoire.

    I admired too many things about Rene to list them here but she taught her conservative oldest sister some wonderful life skills that have deeply enriched my life.

    Pink was a strong theme over the last year
    The colour PINK is a beautiful mix of 2 colours: the heat of red plus the coolness of white.
    Rene’s love for Jason, her family & friends, her passion to be fit & healthy, her competitive spirit, the maple leaf and her courageous fight for life made up her “red side”
    Rene’s “cool under pressure” approach to tennis matches, her calm but assertive mentoring skills, her ability to see humour during her toughest challenges and her quiet confidence to engage with people from all walks of life made up her white side.

    Rene is one of the coolest women I’ve ever known.
    Mom and Dad brought their third baby girl into our family and supported her as she blossomed from tough tomboy into the lovely, warm, athletic and confident woman we knew and loved. Rene has left beautiful footprints on their hearts that will never fade.
    Carol and I feel very proud and extremely lucky to have her as our sister.

    Rene brought a little bit of PINK into all our lives.
    We will miss her every day.

  47. Jason, you define how a man should love his wife. Jason, Burt, Jane, Carol, and Anne, on behalf of Rene’s many TCU friends we are very sorry for your loss!

    Sincerely, Susan and Kelly Mullarkey

  48. Dear Jason,

    I think of you, Rene and your families every single day. I want you to know that I have taken her words to heart and have written them on a sticky note on my computer to read every day. “Celebrate what I have accomplished and what we all did together. Take nothing for granted and live your life with enthusiasm and laughter.” I feel I am a better person for having known Rene and want to thank you for sharing your journey together.

    Much love to you and your family,

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