'Community champion' Paul Fournier mourned

Paul Fournier, who died on Wednesday at age 82, is being remembered for his dedication to the community. (SUBMITTED PHOTO) jpg, BT

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Paul Fournier, a Citizen of the Year, city councillor, behind-the-scenes community fixer and passionate volunteer, died earlier this week, leaving behind a legacy that includes the YMCA pool, fine arts at St. Lawrence College and the Aquatarium.

Fournier died at home on Wednesday at age 82, surrounded by his family, after a battle with cancer.

“He had a mission to kind of serve and make the community better,” his daughter, Alyson, recalled on Friday.

It was that drive that led him to serve, briefly, on city council under then mayor Steve Clark.

Now the local MPP and provincial municipal affairs minister, Clark could not be reached for direct comment but issued a statement remembering his late friend.

“Paul’s passion for Brockville and its people knew no bounds and is reflected in his tireless and determined efforts to help build and sustain some of our most cherished institutions,” said Clark.

“He was a true community champion, something I saw first-hand from having the honour of serving with him on Brockville city council. Paul’s love for our city and the Thousand Islands has left a legacy that won’t ever be forgotten.”

The flags behind city hall fly at half-mast on Thursday afternoon in memory of Paul Fournier, a prominent longtime community volunteer and former city councillor, who died on Wednesday at age 82. (RONALD ZAJAC/The Recorder and Times) jpg, BT

A native of Perth, Fournier practised law in Brockville for decades.

“He really liked the commercial stuff, putting deals together, working with businesses,” said his son, Mark.

Mark and Alyson recalled their father’s skill for “putting the angels of Brockville together” to get things accomplished.

“He was a fixer,” agreed local businessman and fellow Citizen of the Year David Beatty, adding Fournier avoided the limelight and liked working out deals behind the scenes.

“Paul really tried to get people together and find common ground,” said Beatty.

“He would have made a great diplomat.”

The Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce named Fournier Citizen of the Year in 2007.

Beatty, who won that award in 2004, worked with Fournier pretty much from the start of his own decades-long career as head of Canarm Ltd. The pair travelled the world together on business.

“He kept me out of a lot of trouble, that’s for sure,” Beatty joked.

Fournier’s community accomplishments include fundraising for what would eventually become the city’s community pool at the YMCA, and playing what Beatty called an instrumental role in starting the local Y foundation.

His legacy also includes the fine arts program at St. Lawrence College.

“He was instrumental in getting the arts program at St. Lawrence College from an interest program only, to a diploma,” recalled Beatty.

In fact, his interest in the program extended beyond supporting it. Fournier studied at the fine arts program at SLC as a mature student.

“Not only was he a lawyer but he was an accomplished artist as well,” said his son.

Beatty played a critical role in ensuring the Maritime Discovery Centre project, which later became the Aquatarium, came to fruition, but he nonetheless lists two people who, aside from developer Simon Fuller, were most responsible for making it happen: Paul Fournier and the late Ben TeKamp, who was mayor at the time.

Fournier, Beatty noted, took on the duties of fundraising chairman for the project at a time when it was a challenge to explain to potential donors what a maritime discovery centre actually was.

“He was passionate about it,” added his son.

Fournier is survived by his wife, Audrey, as well as children Mark, Kelly, Stephen and Alyson, his brothers Mike and Dan and sister Anne, as well as grandchildren Janelle, Taylor, Emma, Peyton, Jake and Sloane. He was predeceased by his parents Francis and Norah and daughter Paula.

He was devoted to his family and his Catholic faith.

He also lived life to the fullest, said Beatty, who recalled a 10-year stretch in which Fournier joined a few others in sailing around the world in stages, parking his boat in different locations and picking it up.

“He’s one of the few people I know that circumnavigated the globe in a sailboat,” said Beatty.

A private graveside service will be held due to COVID-19 restrictions. Donations to Brockville’s palliative care service, St. Lawrence College or the Brockville YMCA are appreciated. Condolences or donations can be made online at www.irvinememorial.com.

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