John’s beautiful song has come to an end. Surrounded by his family and their undying love, John passed away peacefully on November 16, 2023, in his 93rd year, after a courageous and inspiring battle with cancer.
Family was everything to John. He leaves behind his devoted children David and Laura, and his beloved wife of 53 years, Marie (née Cauz), who remembers her sweetheart for his beautiful eyes, kindness, and gentle humour. Family dinners were marked, to the very end, by jokes, laughter and song. He is survived by his sister Rose Behr, who held a special place in his heart, as did her children Linda (Jim), John (Kate), and Connie (Sebastian), for whom he will always be their ‘Zizi’. Sorely missed by sister-in-law Bev Polci and predeceased by brother-in-law Fred, John was a loving uncle to their children Victoria (Tom), Chris (Sara), Fred (Hedy) and Jennifer (Laura). He will be similarly mourned by brother-in-law Louis Cauz and his children Carrie, Michelle (Kevin), David (Marie), Jason (Gina), Matthew (Amy), and Joshua (Krista). He was an affectionate great-uncle and great-great-uncle to many nieces and nephews.
The son of Cesare and Emma Mereu, born on June 26, 1931, in London, Ontario, John was a gentle soul who moved in this world with humility and a sense of humour. He took pride in his Italian heritage, and a trip to Italy in 1991 allowed him to meet extended family and explore his roots in the Sardinian village of Ierzu. John treasured his lifetime of interactions with London’s Italian community, which began during days spent working in Meren’s Fruit Store, and continued long after he obtained his law degree from Dalhousie University (1959) and opened a law practice. He retired only in early 2022, making him one of the city’s longest-serving lawyers. John was a skilled and respected practitioner of the law, always enjoying its social dimension, not least the chance to talk with clients about their lives and needs. The value that John placed in community extended to his helping in 1973 to establish the Alice Saddy Association, which supports the independent living of individuals with developmental disabilities.
John’s family are grateful to surgeon Neil Parry, whose skills gave John nearly three more beautiful years with us. We wish to recognize the staff and doctors of LHSC who helped John fight on over these past months. We also offer our profound thanks to his palliative care support team coordinated by Jennifer Dejong. His nurse Amanda Williams and doctor Baraa Achtar cared for John with unflagging compassion, ensuring he was comfortable as he faced the end with his quick wit and quiet acceptance.
Cremation has taken place. Visitors will be received at John T. Donohue Funeral Home, 362 Waterloo Street, on Wednesday, November 29 (2:00-4:00 pm and 7:00-9:00 pm). A Funeral Mass will be held at St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica, 196 Dufferin Avenue, on Thursday, November 30 at 10:00 am.
In lieu of flowers, John’s family invites you to donate to the Alice Saddy Association, the London Health Sciences Foundation, or the charity of your choosing.
Donohue Funeral Home has been serving all faiths and cultures for over 80 years. We offer services personalized to the family’s needs. Be it a traditional funeral or alternative service, we will fulfill the wishes of the family.