On Saturday we celebrated the life of a cherished colleague. Leanne Erickson, Executive Assistant at the North Vancouver District Public Library for the past three and a half years, left this world much too soon.
When you work with someone, you get to know them really really well – in one context. It was a privilege to see how Leanne’s family and friends came together to celebrate this special person, as they know her in an entirely different context. To see the folks who shaped her life and enjoyed so many wonderful times with her, to get a sense of who she was when she “let her hair down”. To get a glimpse of who she was as a wife, daughter, sister, and friend, through tributes, photos and music. Leanne was one helluva vibrant and well-loved woman.
At the service for Leanne, it gave me great comfort to see the strong and extensive network of love that surrounded Leanne, that she was a part of, and that carried her through her difficult battle with cancer.
Those of us who worked with Leanne were privileged to spend almost eight hours a day, five days a week with her. We worked through good times and challenging times. We shared successes and failures. We supported each other through sickness and health. We worked hard, and we had fun.
And all the time you log together, all the accomplishments you enjoy together, all the little and thoughtful gestures, they all add up to something meaningful. Leanne was an important part of my life and I’ll never forget her. Nor will I ever stop missing her. She made my life better.
In thinking about Leanne and what she meant to me, and to my library, I wrote this tribute:
You can tell a lot about a person during the interview process.
It was clear at the first interview that Leanne had the technical skills to do the job. She was experienced, and competent.
By the second interview, I knew that we had a good match. We shared a desire to do our best work in an environment that’s supportive and compassionate. We bonded over a shared interest in art and design, and the discovery that we had each dealt with the loss of our mother at pretty much the same time. And she completely won me over when she revealed that she had sneaked downstairs to watch Poltergeist when she was five!
Time proved what an amazingly skilled and beautiful human being she was. Her calm competence and eye for detail have made a lasting impact at work. She designed the style guides for all of the Library Board reports, agendas, minutes, and policy suite, and we’ll benefit from that work for years to come. She also coined the phrase “Board Hangover Day” to summarize how we all felt on the day following a board meeting!
She handled all the details that made our staff workshops run smoothly and included little touches to show that we care about our colleagues. She made my life a whole lot smoother and more efficient by tracking all administrivia, managing little things that I barely even know about, and anticipating my every need. All with kindness and thoughtfulness.
And she was impressive on every front! She spoiled us with baking and knitting. She became my go-to for all things to do with hair, makeup and fashion. When we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Library with a historical fashion show, Leanne figured out my vintage hairdo and even did my makeup like a pro! (Using her deluxe Disney princess makeup kit, for the record!) She was that kind of an above-and-beyond person.
In thousands of little ways, she made a big difference in this world.
We are all richer for having had Leanne in our lives.
You can read more about Leanne’s Journey with cancer here: www.leannesjourney.ca
Donations in memory of Leanne will be gratefully received by the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation.