Denise Reinhart


Denise Elaine Reinhart (Ryan) was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1952, and has always loved trees.

A long legged, determined, and precocious little girl, she was the darling of her father Eugene Ryan’s eye. Grounded in his keen curiosity for knowledge and conversation, Denise was raised to question, and chase information so that she was armed and ready when she went to battle in any lively discussion.  Her mother Alice Ryan (Godfrey) taught her about humility and joy, and growing up Denise could often be found skipping and dancing around their East York  neighbourhood, many times with her sister Nancy Ryan, or on her way to visit her grandparents Mr. and Mrs. Hibbert.

Her roots in Toronto gave a ground from which a career in nursing grew.  Her natural empathetic nature, and calm, steady disposition set her up well for this job, and she and her best pal Donna Kampman attended nursing school together, making memories that would set up a career, and a lifelong friendship.

As life carried on, and her own tree grew, Denise branched out with her partner and husband David Reinhart, and the pair moved to Chatham Ontario. After a few years working at the former Public General Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital, Denise and Dave welcomed their 3 children, the loves of her life, Christine Beintema (Reinhart), Jennifer Welburn (Reinhart), and Mark Reinhart. Fueled by her own logic and choice, Denise shifted her focus to raising her kids, shaping their perspectives, actively volunteering throughout the community, and managing the home.

Grounded in knowledge, informed by humility, and inspired by her children, Denise grew experiences and beliefs from her branches. She was an original feminist, and she worked tirelessly to raise her kids to defy traditional roles held for men and women, and to not only respect difference, but crave it, and chase it.  She read all the time, covered her hands in dirt from her backyard and the family cottage, and spoke to the birds, the squirrels and the trees.  She loved to bake, especially with her grandkids Ryan Beintema, Gavin Welburn, and Raina Welburn, who she adored. She searched for the deeper meaning in every situation, never shied away from a political conversation, and when she asked you how you were, she really wanted to know the answer.  She opened her arms when her family expanded to include her kids’ partners Alan Welburn, Simon Swanek, and Brandon Beintema, and was a humble and sensitive second Mom to many. She loved the sun, loved to walk, loved the water, and could often be found with her feet kissed by waves.

She was a warrior, fighting the good fight for a compassionate future for us all.

6 short years ago, our brave warrior went to war.  Diagnosed with leukemia, Denise armoured up with a relentless sense of fearless determination, and walked head on into her cancer journey. Guided by the tirelessly kind, and compassionately efficient staff at the London Health Sciences Centre, Denise bravely fought.  She quickly became known as the walking woman up on C7, as she clocked countless hours walking the halls to the soundtrack of her rolling IV pole and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, waving and grinning at the staff as she motored past them.  Her joy, and generosity of spirit, was contagious.

On April 30th, surrounded by family, peacefully at her home, courageous Denise grew tall, and met her friends, the trees in the sky. In the windiness of that day, the tree branches blew, the red-winged blackbirds sang, and the resilience that Denise embodied her whole life found a new home on the rhythms of the wind as they rippled through the air.

She will be terribly missed, and lovingly remembered.  Always.

But in soils we will garden, in puddles we will jump, in melodies we will dance, and in waters we will stand, grounded in her compassion, steadied by her resolve, inspired by her fearlessness, and brilliant in the glow of her uncompromising love…and belief in the potential of us all.

“Do not go gently into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

We will rage, walking woman, and keep your light burning, as you rest in power, peace, and freedom.

We love you so much.

Family will be holding a small, private celebration of life in the summertime.  If you are looking for a way to honour Denise, here are some suggestions:

–          Take a walk for her on a favourite walking path or trail

–          Plant a native tree or plant in her memory

–          Get your hands dirty in your garden

–          Stand at the shore of a lake, and feel the breeze off the water

–          Go ask someone how they are, and make time to listen to the whole answer

–          Dance to the beat of your own drummer

You can also donate to one of the many charities that she supported, which includes:    The Terry Fox Foundation for Cancer Research, and   Blood Sweat and Spin, a London Ontario based cycling event that raises money to support blood cancer patients and their families at the London Regional Cancer Program:


57 Comments on “Denise Reinhart”

  1. What a beautiful tribute! I always thought Denise was kind, smart, unique-an amazing person! So sorry to the family for such a loss but sounds like you can draw on many great memories to comfort you in the years to come.

  2. My husband and I had the pleasure of meeting Denise up on C7 while he was having chemo and they were in a shared room. We were inspired by her positivity and strength. Words don’t bring much comfort after such deep loss, but the beautiful memories and the hope that one day we will be together with our loved ones again will carry us forward, one step at a time. Please accept my condolences. Laura Penner

  3. What a beautiful tribute Dave, Christine ,Jenn and Mark. You have truly lost one very very special women in your lives. Whenever we were together though it has been a long time she always chatted about you. The stories were endless. From working on the council. To staying up all night at the 24 hour famine. The drama shows and so on and so on. You will miss her so. But cherish every single moment you had with her and hold them close to your heart forever.

  4. Dear Dave and Family,
    May your precious memories bring you some comfort during this difficult time and in the days ahead.
    With Sincere Sympathy,
    Lu-Ann Cowell

  5. She had the warmest smile. We are honoured to have known her and share her interest in arts and culture. Denise made a difference on this earth and will never be gone from our hearts.
    Our deepest sympathy to the entire family.

  6. Dave and Family
    We were so sorry to hear of Denise’s passing. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you during this most difficult time.
    Mark and Cindy Weaver

  7. Dear Dave, Christine ,Jenn and Mark,
    I was deeply saddened to hear of your enormous loss. What a lovely tribute!
    Please accept my deepest sympathies.
    Audrey Hummelen

  8. A beautiful tribute to such a beautiful soul. Denise was there for me during my darkest days with her listening mind, her kind heart and her sage advice. She recently was there to celebrate my happiest times, too. She will be so missed but she left this world better than she found it, especially the gift she gave in the form of her children: Mark, Christine and Jen.

  9. Dave, Christine, Jenn and Mark, such a beautiful tribute for such a beautiful soul. We are so very sorry for your loss but know that she is at peace and will never be forgotten. Please accept our prayers and condolences as you go through this difficult time.

  10. Christine; What a beautiful tribute. My heart is hurting for your family’s loss – I never had the pleasure of meeting your mom, but sure wish I had. However, I feel by knowing you, I know her. You sound just like her

  11. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady! My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family. God Bless You Always

  12. I’m so sorry for the loss of your beloved mum, gramma Christine. I’ve been following your posts over the last couple of years through her journey. I wish. Could have met her. A fellow nurse who took care of others. My heart is with you and family. My condolences. Linda

  13. Beautiful tribute to her beautiful soul. From myself and my family to yours, our deepest sympathies and love. Thinking of you.

  14. Dear Dave and family, Such a beautiful, moving tribute.
    Sending our heartfelt condolences.
    Carrie and Mike Myers xo

  15. Our deepest sympathies to the family.
    A moving, heartfelt and beautiful tribute to a wonderful wife, mother and grandmother

  16. Dear Dave & Kiddos, so very sorry to hear of your loss of your beloved Denise.
    We have so many great memories from the old gymnastic days.
    Sending you all my sincere condolences.

    1. She must have been an amazing woman to raise such a kind, creative, and generous soul as Mark. Ran and I will be making a tree donation through the CA in her honour xoxo sending love

      1. Dear Dave, Mark and family, so sorry to hear of your loss. We will keep you in our prayer.

        The Menzies family, Atlanta,Ga

  17. Dave and family, so sorry to hear about your loss of Denise. She will be missed by so many lives that she touched. I will always cherish the time spent with her cooking hot dogs at Indian Creek School. Hugs to you, Christine, Jenn and Mark. Gail &Chuck.

  18. What a beautiful tribute to your Mom. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve long looked up to Denise, and have been lucky to know her (thanks to Mark!), since I was a kid. I will remember to honour her in all the ways listed. And though she is gone, she has not gone far, for her beautiful family has always been a reflection of her life – You embody your Mom with your big hearts full of kindness, dignity, courage and strength, creativity, intellect… the list goes on.m! Much love to all of you. Your Mom was certainly a force of nature!

  19. Family of Denise Reinhart
    You have my deepest condolences with the loss of your beloved Wife, Mom, Grandmother and Friend.
    Though I never met her, I did see Denise’s zest for life and her caring nature through knowing and working with Mark.
    May the wonderful memories of her be your special treasures.
    Thinking of you,

  20. I love you Nana and I miss you so much. You always cared for me made sure I was ok and are really funny like really. I hope that all your pain is gone and u are in peace. I believe you are watching over me and making sure I’m ok. I will always remember all the good times I had with you and how amazing you are. All your funny jokes and all your inspiring things you said to me. You are my inspiration and idol and I want to be like you because your amazing.

  21. Dave and Family,
    We are saddened to learn of Denise’s passing after her courageous battle. Your shared remembrance of her is a testament to a kind and generous spirit and a life well lived with love and the sharing of her gifts in the service of others. We are thinking of you all and hope the cherished memories you have bring comfort at a time when your hearts are heavy with loss.

  22. Mark and family,
    Sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. Lucky for you that your Mom was a fighter to stay with you longer than expected.
    Our condolences.
    The Chatham Lawnbowling Club.

  23. So sorry for your loss. This incredible tribute to Denise, and how we should live our lives will fuel my week with inspiration.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  24. David and family,
    So saddened to hear of Denise’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. She has left you all with wonderful memories and the love she instilled in all of you will live on. Our deepest condolences.
    Denis and Julie Sasseville

  25. Mark and family, so very sorry for your loss. The tribute honoured a a beautiful life and love of family. May your memories bring you comfort at this very sad time.
    Sincere condolences.
    Penny Daniels

  26. Dave & family,
    The beautiful tribute says it all. It was a pleasure to know Denise & work with her. My most sincere condolences. I know your memories will sustain you.

  27. Dear Dave and Family:
    I extend sincere condolences to all of you in the passing of a loving wife and mother.
    The tribute to her is so touching and portrays the kind, giving and loving person she was.
    She certainly is a role model for all of us.

  28. Dear Dave, Christine, Jennifer, Mark and family
    Our deepest condolences in the loss of Denise.
    An amazing tribute to a lovely lady.
    Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time, treasure your memories.
    Larry and Linda LAHEY

  29. Dave, Christine, Jenn and Mark,
    Your family has been on quite a journey. Every one of you has played such a significant part in the story that the beautiful tribute tells. I hope that you, and Denise, have peace.
    Christie Dawson Coatsworth

  30. Mark and Family, I wish you all such great Peace and Comfort and I look forward to honouring Denise in all of the ways suggested above.

  31. Dave , Christine , Jennifer , Mark , we are so very sorry for your loss , you are in our prayers and thoughts always , your family has been such good friends over the years on King St. and then the move to the south side of Chatham , we will miss Denise and we hope we can get together in person someday in the future . Dave , I know the kids and grandkids will surround you with love and support .

  32. Such a beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you Dave, Christine, Jennifer and Mark and your families.

  33. Dear Dave, what a lovely tribute for Denise. Very sorry for your loss. Sounds like you have a wonderful family to help and support you.

  34. Dave and family,I am sorry for your loss. Denise was indeed a woman of great courage and strength. Her legacy of family and love for all will never be forgotten but will continue in all who were privileged to know her. I will remember the time we spent together so many years ago working on projects at the church and the friendship we developed at that time. I will walk the trails and remember her as I do. My love to you all

  35. David, Mark, Jennifer and Christine,

    What a wonderful woman…my favourite memories were when she and Gloria Elliott taught “coping with kids” at the Canadian Mental health Association…they were a great team, we had so much fun and many belly laughs…she will be missed


  36. Dear Dave and Family,

    Reading Denises’ obituary notice and viewing her beautiful tribute this morning, brought back countless fond memories stemming back to 1974.
    It has been a long time but I have never forgotten, nor will I, how you, Denise and the kids became a part of my life.
    Please accept my condolences and know that I hold all of you and Denise in prayer.

    Rick Janisse

  37. Dave and family
    So sorry for loss. She lived a full and lovely life with you and your family although taken too soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  38. Our deepest sympathy to Mr. Reinhart and his family from myself Linda and everyone from Pie-Zano’s.

  39. Dear Dave and Family,
    We are so sorry to hear of Denise’s passing. Your beautiful tribute showed a family that loved and laughed often. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Ruth and Allen Luyt

  40. Dear Dave and Family,
    We are so sorry to hear of Denise’s passing. Your beautiful tribute showed a family that loved and laughed often. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Ruth and Allen Luyt

  41. Dear Dave and family, I am so sorry to hear of Denise’s passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  42. Dave and family. Denise was a very fine lady. We are so sorry for your loss.

    Bob and Bonnie Clark

  43. We are very saddened by Denise’s passing. Dave, our deepest condolences to you and your family.

  44. Very sorry for your family’s loss of Denise. A beautiful tribute to her incredible gift to her family and community.
    Sincere condolences and deep sadness for the loss of Denise.
    John and Helen Hanak

  45. Dear Dave and your Family
    We are sending our sincere condolences on the passing of Denise. A beautiful tribute for Denise, Wife, Mother and Grandmother.
    Frank and Mildred Faubert and family

  46. Very sad to hear that Denise passed away. Our thoughts & prayers are with all of you, sincerely, Guy & Anne

  47. Beautiful tribute, beautiful pictures of a beautiful family! Sincere Sympathies to David and family! You are in my prayers.

  48. My earliest memories are of my time with the Reinhart’s at their house on King Street. My first ever sleep over, away from home, with Christine, and I was too scared through the night. Denise comforted me and I made it through the night! I am lucky to know all of you and love each of you very much. The comfort for me is that she and my dad are together making sure all of us are thriving because that is how they raised us to be – and sending us so much love – every minute of every day.

    This tribute is so beautiful and I write this with tears in my eyes – so much love to all of you – always. xo

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