---Pauline “Polly” Foran passes, Aylmer loses another pillar of the community
Grieving the recent loss of one of the most notable volunteers in the community, Aylmerites honoured the life and contributions of Pauline “Polly” Foran with a funeral service at St, Mark’s Church on March 24.
After a long battle with illness, Foran passed away peacefully at the Maison Mathieu-Froment-Savoie on March 15. She was 86 years old. On March 19, Pontiac Member of National Assembly (MNA) André Fortin addressed Foran’s passing during a public meeting - calling her one of the most influential community builders in Aylmer’s history. “She was the very embodiment that personified unselfishness,” Fortin said at the National Assembly. “Mrs. Foran was the type to see a problem and solve it herself.”
Involved in the community as a volunteer at the Aydelu Centre for more than 40 years, Fortin said she was instrumental in shaping Aylmer into what it is today. Notably, she played a key role in financing the construction of the two local hockey arenas – Frank-Robinson and Isabelle-et-Paul-Duchesnay – by mortgaging her home instead of waiting for municipal investment. “Who does that?” Fortin told the Aylmer Bulletin. “Who remortgages their house for a community building. It’s something that would be completely unthinkable today, that somebody would go to those lengths to build community infrastructure.”
“She spent months going door to door to accumulate the necessary funds,” he added. While devastated to learn about her passing, Fortin feels grateful knowing that Foran won’t be forgotten. “I’m glad that everybody is paying tribute to her because she deserves it,” Fortin told the Aylmer Bulletin.
Recalling her unique personality and welcoming nature, Fortin will miss Foran’s kind-heartedness, her desire to see Aylmer thrive, and to see the French and English communities come together. “You automatically warmed to her,” Fortin said. “She was somebody who had the community at heart, who had Aydelu at heart and wanted people in the community to have a space that was not necessarily the town’s but their own, the community’s.”
Eternally linked to the Aydelu Centre and the local rinks, along with her late husband Dennis W. Foran – after whom the main hall at the Aydelu Centre is named – Fortin believes the community needs to do something to commemorate them appropriately. “The rooms at Aydelu are already named after them,” Fortin said. “But I think they can probably take it a step further. I’m certainly looking forward to conversations with other community leaders and elected officials to see what the best way is. But definitely we’re going to have to find a way to honour her and her family’s legacy.”
“As a town, we owe the Foran family so much,” he added. “The Foran name will forever be an important part of Aylmer’s history.” While Aylmer is filled with benevolent hearts and important volunteers, Fortin noted that people like Foran don’t come around too often.
Remembering her as a generous person with a warm heart who was heavily involved in volunteering initiatives, Lucerne district councillor Gilles Chagnon saluted her contributions and the undebatable impact of her family on Aylmer’s growth. “Volunteers are the lungs of a great community,” Chagnon said. “Those people are very important. The least we can do is pay homage to their names for the thousands of hours of benevolence they offered.”
An exemplary mother and role model for youngsters, Chagnon said Foran was a pillar in the community that people loved to be around and that her loss leaves a significant void at the Aydelu Centre.
Paying her respects to Foran and extending sympathies to her family, Bureau acknowledged their involvement in the community, noting that a municipal volunteering award paying homage to important community builders is named after her husband (Le Prix Dennis W. Foran).
For Bureau, one of the hardest aspects of Foran’s passing is that her loved ones and the community aren’t able to congregate and commemorate her in a more formal fashion, due to Covid-19. “So many people have died since the start of the pandemic who would have deserved a funeral service where I’m sure that hundreds of people would have liked to be able to pay a final homage,” Bureau said. “I find it very unfortunate.”
She invited members of Foran’s family wishing to hold a more formal celebration of life when the pandemic is over to contact her for help. “I’m sure people would love to be able to thank Mr. and Mrs. Foran and their whole family for everything they’ve done for Old Aylmer,” Bureau said. “They dedicated a lot of time, effort and energy for the good of the community.”
Besides being a loving mother, Foran’s son Stephen told the Aylmer Bulletin that he will always remember how much she enjoyed helping people and being around her children. “She had a big in ground pool at her home and there were always kids in the pool and barbecues and having fun,” Foran said.
For Stephen, her most notable qualities were her comforting personality and her ability to chat about anything with anybody. “She was someone who didn’t mind pitching in and helping,” he added. “She always made people feel welcome.”
More than anything, he’s going to miss having her as a companion to talk with about sports and politics. “Every time we would get together, we would talk sports for the first half-hour,” Stephen said, noting that she was an awesome person. “I could go to her and ask her about a game and she would give me the entire breakdown of what happened and she would watch sports all the time, hockey, football, baseball,” he added. “She was a big Ottawa Rough Riders fan.”
Born in the Limbour district, on May 7, 1934, Foran grew up with five siblings before moving to Aylmer, where she worked as a supply teacher at St. Mark’s Elementary for more than 20 years. After that, she spent the next 40-plus years volunteering with the Aydelu Centre’s board of directors, organizing bingo nights, booking event reservations, and being a positive presence in people’s lives.