November 11, 2023
Gemma Pieniazek, 96, passed peacefully away in her sleep on Saturday, November 11, 2023.
Gemma, the youngest of six children, was born on August 20, 1927, to Victor and Marie Leonie deGale in the village of Grenville, Grenada. She enjoyed an idyllic childhood as one might imagine on a Caribbean island. The unfortunate passing of her father at a young age prompted a move to Barbados, where she lived with her mother and finished school. The death of her mother when she was 22 once again had her on the move, this time to Trinidad, where she lived with her brother. She eventually found a job, an apartment and bought a car. She was truly an independent woman before it was fashionable.
As a beautiful and stylish young woman, there was no shortage of suitors. After turning down numerous marriage proposals, she was introduced to Julian Pieniazek, a handsome and dashing pilot. In short order, they were married, settled in Guyana and welcoming children.
Gemma was a fiercely dedicated Mom to her three children, but especially so for Lisa who was disabled from birth. A move back to Grenada following political unrest in Guyana, saw her and Julian open the highly successful English pub called The Red Crab. With the charm and humour of Julian and her outgoing and vivacious personality, they were the perfect team.
Once again, political instability on the island prompted another move, this time to Canada, where they settled in London, Ontario. It was here that Gemma left a lasting legacy in the form of an organization called New Frontiers. In those days, disabled persons were put in an institution and this is where Lisa ended up. Gemma made it her mission to get Lisa out and into the community and after many years of struggle, advocacy and with the help of many, she helped establish an organization that was the first of its kind in the province. Lisa moved out and into her own place where both she and Gemma found community and established friendships and bonds that exist to this day.
Gemma was also passionate about her Catholic faith and was a long-time parishioner of Holy Family Parish in London where she was also a member of the CWL. Her faith and spiritual journey guided her life and helped instill the same in her children.
Gemma was predeceased by her beloved husband Julian Pieniazek, her brothers George deGale, Charles deGale, Leo deGale, her sisters Clare deVertuiel and Denise Salles-Miquelle.
She is survived by her sons Michael Pieniazek (Rita), Antosh Pieniazek (Carla) and her daughter Lisa Pieniazek. She is also survived by her grandchildren Rachel Pieniazek, Julian Pieniazek, Ella Pieniazek and Ian Pieniazek.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Holy Family Parish, 777 Valetta Street, London on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at 10:00 a.m., with visitation at the church one hour prior. Interment at St. Peter’s Cemetery. Reception to follow at Westview Funeral Chapel, 709 Wonderland Road North, London at 12:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation via cheque to New Frontiers Support Services, 100 – 557 Southdale Road East, London, Ontario N6E 1A2.
Leave a tribute for Gemma Pieniazek
Leave a tribute
A donation has been made to New Frontiers. Message from the donator: Extending our deepest sympathy and know that you are in our prayers. Auntie Gemma was special and will be very much missed. A contribution to New Frontier Services has been made in her memory. Lots of love and hugs Martin and Roslyn
Extending our deepest sympathy and know that you are in our prayers. Auntie Gemma was special and will be very much missed. A contribution to New Frontier Services will be made in her memory. Lots of love and hugs Martin and Roslyn
Antosh and family, I am so sorry to hear about your mom's passing. As I remember, she was a lovely woman and great neighbour. May your many memories of her give you comfort during this difficult time.
A donation has been made to New Frontiers Support Services. Message from the donator: Gemma will be in our prayers. Love, Caroline, Darryl & Dean Gardner
Aunty Gemma was my godmother and I have to tell you she took that seriously and had to straighten me out a few times. I knew she had my best interests at heart and managed to take her gentle prods without getting upset!! She lived a long & full life. Worked hard and did her best to handle all that life had to throw at her. I remember as a child when she first moved to Grenada with Uncle Julien and my cousins she sewed me a lovely dress and invited me to afternoon tea!! Nothing like that to make you feel all grown up!! I know she thought i could use a little more female influence growing up as I did with 5 brothers!! She never forgot her goddaughters and Leonie and I could count on her remembering our birthdays and Christmas with something lovely just for us. I will miss her very much but I know she is in a better place and God willing reunited with her siblings and her lovely husband Julien. Here are a few photos to remember her by. Frances
Gemma was a remarkable woman, filled with drive, courage, and passion for all she believed in. She was also a master storyteller, with a great sense of humour, an excellent cook, elegant and stylish, and she was fun! She brought so much to all of our Circle gatherings, including friendship, support, and appreciation. I loved Gemma and have many fond memories. Thinking of all the family with love as well.
My heartfelt condolences to all of Gemma’s family. I have fond memories of Gemma from my days at Holy Family Parish. She certainly live an inspiring and faith-filled life.
Services for Gemma Pieniazek
Visitation will be held at:
Holy Family Parish
777 Valetta Street,
November 15, 2023 9:00 am to 10:00 am
Funeral Mass will be held at:
Holy Family Parish
777 Valetta Street,
November 15, 2023 10:00 am
Interment will be held at:
St. Peter's Cemetery
806 Victoria Street,
November 15, 2023 11:30 am
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