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Port Alberni’s Laurel Lenormand flying high after retirement

Lenormand worked at Family Guidance Association for 28 years
Laurel Lenormand with her husband Gerry. In the back, from left to right, are staff and board members: Melanie Stevenson, Janina Barnett, Brenda Kraneveldt, Terry Deakin and Doreen Grant. (SONJA DRINKWATER / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)



Laurel Lenormand celebrated her last day of work at Port Alberni Family Guidance Association by flying a kite at Harbour Quay.

“Years ago I was dragon boating and went into a little store and bought a dragon boat kite and brought it to my office,” explained Lenormand. “Clients would ask why I had it, and I told them that when I retired I was going to go and fly my kite. That way everyone will know that I have retired.”

She said she picked Harbour Quay because she and her husband regularly have lunch there and chat with friends. It also offers a breeze in the afternoon, and the setting is appropriate for following COVID-19 restrictions.

Laurel sat in front of Starboard Grill as numerous friends drove by to wish her well. For their wishes, they were given a bag of donuts courtesy of Family Guidance. Terry Deakin, Family Guidance board of directors’ treasurer, presented Laurel with a card and a composter and ornament for her garden on behalf of the board.

Melanie Stevenson, acting manager of Family Guidance, also touted Laurel’s many virtues and how much this popular lady will be missed.

READ MORE: Port Alberni Family Guidance turns 50

Laurel was overcome with emotion at the outpouring of love that she received.

Then it was to time to go fly her kite.

Laurel was born in Bella Coola to Nadine and Frank Larson and is one of four children raised in Prince George. She graduated in 1973 and briefly went to college in Prince George. She married Gerry Lenormand in 1975.

“We have 2 children, one born in Prince George and one in Iran where we lived for two years,” she said.”My husband, a retired draftsman, was hired to help build a paper mill, pulp mill and a sawmill there in Iran.”

When they came back to Canada, a job was available in Port Alberni with M&B Pulp and Paper.

“I stayed home with the kids, then went to work at numerous first aid jobs,” said Laurel. “My mom said I should be in social work and so I went to school at North Island College and then the University of Victoria, where I received a degree in social work. I applied for a practicum at Port Alberni Family Guidance Association. After my practicum was completed, I got such a good recommendation from Jack Thornburg that I got hired.”

Laurel was hired April 1, 1993. She was a Youth and Family Counsellor, then went back to school and to get her Master’s degree in Education and Counselling Psychology.

“When Jack retired in the early 2000s I applied for his job as Executive Director/Clinical Counselor and was fortunate to receive it,” she said.

Laurel’s daughter Janick and grandchildren Émilienne and Esmé also live in Port Alberni. Her son Chris lives in Victoria.

“I am blessed that all of my little family lives on the Island,” she said.

Laurel is a member of PAACL, ACAWS and sits on the board of the Gaming Association as a rep for Port Alberni Family Guidance Association.

“I love reading, gardening, quilting, crafting, travel when it is available and, of course, spending time with my husband, children and grandchildren,” she said.

“I am happy to be retiring but will also miss my clients, my staff and the engaging and rewarding work. I look forward to starting a new chapter of my life and would like to thank all of the people who supported me over the last 28 years at Family Guidance. A huge thank you to everyone that came by on Wednesday and to the board and staff for their lovely gifts.”

Laurel receives lovely heartfelt words of thanks from Family Guidance board member/treasurer Terry Deakin. (SONJA DRINKWATER / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)