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Video: Family and friends bid farewell to Lily Fielding

'We all can and should get better, be wiser with age'

Friends, family and loved ones gathered at the Church of the Epiphany in downtown Sudbury on a bright and sunny Monday morning to say their final goodbyes to Lily Fielding.

The matriarch of the Fielding family and one of the city's most well-known philanthropists, Lily Fielding (née Kivi) passed away at her home in Long Lake on Sept. 8, surrounded by loved ones, at the age of 103.

Her peaceful passing, as described by her grandson Gordon Wallace, came after a life marked with tremendous loss.

Lily Fielding outlived not only her parents, Susanna and John Kivi, but her daughter Brenda, her son Jim, her sister Violet, her granddaughter Norinne Perdue and her husband of nearly 70 years, Cliff Fielding.

"She was one tough lady," said Gordon Wallace, speaking at his grandmother's funeral on Monday.

While blessed with a steely resolve, Lily Fielding was someone who devoted her later years to helping others, contributing millions of dollars to a number of causes in Greater Sudbury, and at the forefront of her giving is Kivi Park, named in honour of her parents.

"Being caring and generous was a constant throughout my grandmother's life," said Jeff Wallace, another grandson. "She was tough and determined and overcame the deepest of tragedies."

Lily Fielding was at her happiest when surrounded by her family, as was mentioned by all of her family members who spoke on Monday. The Fielding home on Long Lake was a gathering place for birthdays and numerous other family functions.

Cliff and Lily's camp on David Lake in Killarney was the site of many lasting memories for family members and was a getaway for the different generations and branches of the family for many years.

An avid bridge player, Lily would often have members of the family over to her home for card games.

"She always greeted us with a smile," said Lily's niece, Barb Major. "We'd play bridge for $2 a game and often Lily would win. I think we all secretly wanted her to win just to see the joy on her face."

The family matriarch brought out the best of those around her, specifically from her family members. She wasn't shy about scolding her grandkids, but it was always done with love.

"I remember I showed up to grandma's once and my hair was out of place and she pulled me aside and scolded me about looking proper," said grandson, Craig Fielding.

"I think I made sure to get a haircut any time I was going over there from that point on. She was a pillar of strength in our family and I think we all loved each other a bit more when she was around."

The Most Rev. Anne Germond, Archbishop of the Diocese of Algoma, who was the officiant for the service, said she has a long history with Lily and the Fielding family.

"Since Lily's passing there have been many kind words spoken and written about Lily,” said Germond.

“Words of admiration, gratitude and love. The most heartfelt and poignant words are those that have been spoken here today by her family and loved ones."

Germond shared a story that drove home the way that Lily cared for her family, speaking about Lily's sister Violet's funeral, at which Germond was also the officiant.

"I remember it was a dark, stormy day, and we pulled the car up as close to the curb as possible so that Lily could see the gravesite from the car," said Germond. 

"Gerry (Lougheed) told me everything would work out and I'd give the quickest commendation I've ever given. Despite the storm, Lily didn't want to stay in the car, she insisted on going through the storm to Violet's grave."

Through all of her philanthropic endeavours, tree planting and numerous donations, her legacy is one that serves as a guide to others to always try to do better and be better every day.

"The lesson I think we can take from my grandmother, is that we all can and should get better, be wiser with age," said Jeff Wallace. "She truly saw the beauty in life."