GRONAU, Mary Alix

Mary Alix Gronau died June 7, 2020 in Kingston Ontario. Alix was born August 9, 1925 in Toronto to Jeanne (Gemmell) Minhinnick CM and William (Bat) Nelson Minhinnick. Cherished mother to Anna Feldman Gronau (Kingston) and James Gronau (Milford); beloved grandmother – “Deba” – to Evelyn Feldman (St. Catherines) and Magalí Gronau Toy (Toronto); and dear mother-in-law to Rosalind Adams (Milford), Leslie Toy (Toronto) and to Joseph Feldman, who predeceased her. Predeceased by ex-husband, William Gronau, and aunt, Mary Denoon. Fondly remembered by cousins Ellen and Anne Denoon, (Toronto); Alix’s Minhinnick cousins from London Ontario; niece, Karen (Toronto), nephew, John Gronau, Joanna, and their children, Max and Sophia (Ottawa). An only child, Alix was doted upon by parents and extended family alike. Her maternal grandparents’ magical home in rural Forest Hill, and the old house in London, Ontario (containing another grandmother, uncles, cousins and numerous great aunts, who all translated to Britain Lake in summers) saw seemingly endless sunny days of adventure and imagination. As a girl, Alix loved drawing and soon became fascinated with photography, in her teens working Saturdays for a photographer. Adrift when her parents separated, she left school and found purpose with full-time work at Arthur Lane photo studios. Alix grew from a skinny kid into a slender, striking young woman. Her natural auburn/chestnut hair drew comment, admiration, and sometimes disbelief, throughout her life. On her 18th birthday, 1943, Alix enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. She trained in photography at Rockcliffe Station, and was primarily stationed at #1 Bombing and Gunnery School, Jarvis Ontario, where she met Bill Gronau. Following WWII, she studied photography at Ryerson, eventually landing her dream job in the National Film Board’s Stills Division. She married Bill in 1950, in Montreal. They soon had two children and headed to Hamilton – and life in a rambling old farmhouse that Alix, with flair and determination, made a comfortable home. A loving mother, conscientious housewife and secretary of the PTA, Alix still lacked fulfillment. In 1967, at Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle, her second career began. By 1972 she was Curator. In 1980 Alix became Director of Macaulay House in Picton, Prince Edward County. Retiring in the mid-1980s, Alix made friends, volunteered at the PEC Archives, and travelled to Australasia, the U.K. and Guatemala. In 2006 she moved to Victoria BC to enjoy family and mild winters, but in 2018, she “came home” to Ontario, settling in Kingston, near her children. Despite battling declining health, Alix maintained a clear mind, enjoying conversation with visitors and inspiring affection in everyone she met. The family are grateful to staff at St. Lawrence Place Retirement Home for their attentive care and extend special thanks to Betsy Schmidt of Heart to Heart Seniors Services, who was a loving and constant friend in Alix’s final years. At the small, family-only funeral, all spoke of Alix’s remarkable legacy of kindness. To be notified of the memorial gathering, when possible, please contact Whattam Funeral Home, Picton Ontario. For those who wish, donations to the David Suzuki Foundation in Alix’s memory are greatly appreciated.