It’s been a time of grieving and lament in our community as we mourn the loss of a beautiful person, Louise Riezebos. Louise worked as a middle school educational assistant for seven years and impacted every staff member, student, and parent she met. She passed into the arms of her loving Saviour, on Thursday June 10 after suffering complications due to her brain aneurism that she suffered on May long weekend.
Over the past few weeks, our staff have gathered several times to grieve, share, reflect, and process this immense loss. In our grief, we’d like to share the power of how Louise contributed to our school.
HOW LOUISE WILL BE REMEMBERED BY OUR MIDDLE SCHOOL STAFF:
• “When I grow up, I want to be like you.” Louise heard these words on separate occasions from each of us. She replied, “Do you really want to be like me?” Then she laughed and said, “you don’t want to be like me.” Louise was more than a co-worker to us, she was a role model, a mentor, and a friend. We will miss her wise words, loving heart, playful personality, and of course, her spunk and coloured hair.– Deanna & Karin
• Louise was a prayer warrior. She frequently blessed our whole team through her thoughtful prayers. Her love for Christ was always evident and tangible. Her Christ-like actions were an example for us all. – Corinna R
• I loved how she knew that God was doing something big through our school. – Carrie L
• Louise was one of the first staff to welcome me at ACMS. I still remember our first conversation. – Melissa P
• I love how Louise was always was so honest with her words. There are still a few sayings that stand out in my mind to this day from conversations we’ve had together at work. When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I was quite ill for the first trimester, but tried to hide it while working very closely with Louise each day in a grade 6 classroom. I thought I had done a pretty good job of hiding how sick I felt, but the truth came out once I announced my pregnancy. Louise was the first to tell me that “I had not looked very good” and she had suspected something was up. – Arielle T
• I appreciate how Louise went out of her way to make sure that I, as a new staff member, felt welcome. She was intentional in making connections and building community. Last year she would often bring in delicious treats to share with our staff cohort (even though this was a COVID taboo). For Louise, some rules were mere guidelines if they interfered with the greater good.– Anonymous
• I loved having Louise in our small group at school, and whenever we needed prayer for something, she would always pray.– Carrie L
• I had the awesome privilege of working alongside Louise in a grade 7 classroom together. The first day I met her, she walked into the classroom and said, “Hi Ben, I’m Louise and I’ll be working with you this year!” During the first day of classes, I shared some “Things About Mr. McLeod” with my students, including my favourite meal. Later that first week, Louise invited Rachel and I over for dinner of Pad Thai because as she put it, “You guys need a place to sit and eat a home-cooked meal.” Louise and Peter really took Rachel and I under their wing and became almost like surrogate parents for us in BC. We enjoyed several visits to their home and Louise always would say, “Nothing fancy—just come over.” Her warmth and ability to make you feel special was always present, especially in her hugs! Louise was also a great tour guide and gave us several tips as newcomers to BC about things to see and do, including White Rock, Granville Island, and Stanley Park and she was always adamant that we get out and do something to take a break from schoolwork on the weekend. The four of us also shared a love for the arts. One of our favourite memories is going to watch “Panic Squad”, a Christian improv group and laughing until we cried. Thank you, Louise, for opening your heart and home to us. It was a privilege being invited into your family. We will miss you, but take comfort in knowing that you are safe in our heavenly Father’s arms. – Love, Ben M and Rachel H
• One my first interactions with Louise this year was commenting on how much I loved the purple streak in her hair. She replied with a twinkle in her eye, “Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I have to be boring!” – Anonymous
• I loved how Louise truly cared for all people, but I also really loved how she wouldn’t allow kids to get away with less than what they are called to be. – Carrie L
• The first year I met Louise, I became pregnant and learned that it was an extremely high-risk pregnancy with multiple concerns. I was understandably shaken, crushed, and very anxious. She sought me out, look me in the eye and told me that she had also had very high-risk pregnancies. She knew where my head and heart were at. Louise made sure I knew that God was faithful, and she promised that her and Peter would faithfully pray for us. There was nothing like knowing you had a Louise Riezebos blanket of prayer over you. She helped me reframe and put my focus back on the Lord and trusting Him to write our story. – Anonymous
• It didn’t matter the needs of the student, Louise loved every single one of them and loved them well with her gentleness, humour, grace, smile, and kind heart. She radiated Jesus to everyone. She was intentional and listened, not content with superficial answers but was genuine in wanting to know more about how we really were. She dug deeper into our hearts and was a straight shooter in her advice. She found ways to bring my focus back to Jesus. I loved that about her because she didn’t say what I wanted to hear, rather what I needed to hear. I loved that I could come for prayer, and she would not be afraid to pray in any setting. Praying involved the laying of hands and Jesus flowed through her.– Esther V
• I remember sending out a birth announcement email to the staff just 2 years ago when my son was born. I got many congratulations sent my way…but Louise’s email stood out the most as she wished me congratulations…but also an honest reminder that my son might be adored now by my daughters, but it would only be a matter of time before he’d become in Louise’s words: “the pesky little brother” to them. I was hit with this reality check while he was still less than 24 hours old. But 18 months later when I returned to work I let her know that she could not have been more right! He is now his pesky-little-brother-self just as she had predicted, and it did not take long for that to take effect. – Arielle T
• She loved kids. She found ways to interact with students in any setting and wasn’t afraid to put them in line if needed. She wore a smile on her face and found ways to have fun. Louise was an optimist and helped me rephrase my negative thoughts into a positive and direct me back to how Jesus walked. I’m going to miss her. I’m honoured to have worked with her for 6 years and have the privilege to call her my friend. – Esther V
• When a couple of us visited Louise in the hospital, we were able to share a few growth stories about her students. Her immediate response was, “God is good.” Louise had a gift for making each person she encountered feel seen, loved, and encouraged. This was rooted in her deep belief in the goodness of God and her desire that each student and staff member live into their identity as God’s beloved child. For one student, this meant counting the number of times he passed Mrs. Riezebos in the hallway each day. For another, it meant visiting from the secondary campus when she needed a hug. For staff members, this meant reminders to slow down and take a breath on a busy day. It meant checking in regularly about how our families are doing. It meant taking the time on a challenging day to remind us of what a great job we have. We are deeply grateful to God for loving us through Louise these past 7 years. –Anonymous
Please share your memories of Louise in the comments below.