Renee Carleton lived a life defined by fierce determination

Longtime Manor Park resident passed away in May

By Manor Park Chronicle

Photo of Renee Carleton on a trip to New York City. She passed away in May 2023. Photo: Tom Golem
Photo of Renee Carleton on a trip to New York City. She passed away in May 2023. Photo: Tom Golem

Renee Dyane Carleton passed away peacefully at the Civic Hospital in Ottawa on May 15, 2023 at the age of 51, following complications arising from a surgery.

The beloved wife of Tom Golem, the two of them spent 22 years together building a beautiful family and a wonderful life in Ottawa after moving from Saskatchewan.

Renee is the proud mother to William (16) and Jonathan (14), who love her dearly. She will forever be their biggest cheerleader at hockey rinks, ski hills, track and field competitions, music recitals, academic endeavors and all other life events.

Not to be outdone by her children’s athletic abilities, Renee took up sit-skiing with Canadian Adaptive Snowsports (CADS), an organization dedicated to giving youth and adults with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy snow sports. She also started waterskiing with Ski-ability and started curling through a wheelchair curling group based at the RA Centre.

After spending much of the fall 2022 in the hospital, Renee returned to the ski hill last winter to bomb down the slopes.

Lifelong love of music

Born February 9, 1972, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, she spent her formative years there initiating a lifelong love of playing music (piano, trumpet and singing).

Renee then lived with her family in Indian Head, Saskatchewan, perfecting her musical skills and honing her athletic abilities with her lifelong close friends on the basketball and volleyball courts, and in the auditorium at high-school concerts and performances. All of this was the foundation of a rich life and a love of a small-town community atmosphere. Upon graduation, Renee jetted to Paris to become an au pair and study French. This was followed by her studies at the University of Regina, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in French. Her bilingualism was a bonus on the Saskatchewan prairie, opening the door to work with several federal government departments.

Integral part of Manor Park

A move to Ottawa in 2002 allowed Renee to expand her responsibilities at Employment and Social Development Canada and ultimately Global Affairs Canada until her retirement in 2017. Through her various positions in government, she most enjoyed helping people and to improve the lives of those whom she interacted with.

Finding her place in Ottawa, Renee became an integral part of the Manor Park neighbourhood.

With an outgoing personality, a love of hosting get-togethers and Grey Cup parties with Tom, where the two pioneered many new drinks, Renee thrived in building a beautiful group of very close friends and neighbours.

Whether it be dinner dances, house parties, Easter egg hunts or backyard recitals for her piano students, Renee always had a smile, a laugh and the best stories. In the last few years, Renee would often be seen stopped and chatting to everyone in Manor Park as she rolled in her wheelchair walking her sweet dog, Duchess.

Relentlessly cheerful and always with an opinion, she offered guidance and friendship to all.

Late zoomer

After retiring and dealing with the constraints of the pandemic, Renee realized that she needed to get out and be active. Most of her friends were still working during the day and sports activities were an opportunity to get out and socialize.

The first sport Renee started with was sit-skiing, an adaptive winter sport that allows people with mobility impairments to ski using specially-designed apparatus that allow the skier to remain seated. She connected with the local branch of Canadian Adaptive Snowsports (CADS).
Zooming down the slopes provided Renee with a sense of freedom in the winter when she had little ability to travel up and down the snowy streets of Manor Park in her wheelchair from January to March.
Renee’s son Jon is a competitive mogul skier, while Will and Tom both enjoy skiing.

It was Renee’s unfulfilled dream that they would all ski together or take a ski trip as a family. She really wanted a sport where everyone could participate.

Many of the volunteers with CADS also lend their time to waterskiing with Ski-Ability. CADS volunteer Jeff Boucher invited Renee out onto the Rideau River south of Manotick last summer to waterski. She learned quickly and was starting to ski largely unassisted.

Taking up curling was a natural fit. Being from small town Saskatchewan, Renee had some curling experience in her youth, before her disability took hold.

The RA Centre offers a very strong wheelchair curling program. Renee realized that this would be another good opportunity to socialize. She went out to curl a few times and was determined to join the league early last fall. She needed to stop curling as she fell ill in mid-October.

Fierce determination

Although doctors diagnosed Renee with multiple sclerosis when she was in her twenties, she never believed that a disability would hold her back. She was fiercely determined not to let the disease slow her down. Her strength, determination, drive and hard work in dealing with this long-term condition is one of her most admired attributes by both family and friends.

In addition to her husbands, sons and friends, Renee is also grieved by her parents, Terry and Alice Carleton, and her sister and best friend Sherry Carleton. All were by her side and holding her hand as she said goodbye to this world. She is also survived by her grandmother Wilma Weinberger, her brother-in-law Bruce Royer and nephews Kaden and Ethan Royer. Renee was predeceased by her grandparents Wallace and Joyce Carleton and her grandfather Joseph Weinberger.

Renee will always be remembered as an outgoing, fun-loving, sassy, strong, intelligent woman with a bright smile and beautiful bold blue eyes. She will be dearly missed.

In lieu of flowers please consider a donation in Renee’s name to CADS- Summit Edelweiss program, SkiAbility Ottawa, or the MS Society of Canada.

Renee took up several sports, including sit-skiing. She’s pictured here, centre, with Natalie Boulanger and Jeff Boucher, both volunteers with the Canadian Adaptive Snowsports (CADS) program at Sommet Edelweiss. Photo supplied
Pictured here during a trip to New York City, Renee is remembered by her family and friends as a fun-loving, sassy, strong, intelligent woman with a bright smile and beautiful bold blue eyes. Photo: Tom Golem