Mourning the loss of Glengarry icon Tina Cairncross
On Monday, February 22, Tina Cairncross passed away at Glengarry Memorial Hospital, succumbing to cancer. She was 73.
A noted educator who was passionate about the outdoors, Cairncross, who called Glen Roy home, was the beloved partner of Edwina Billyk; loving sister of Judy Butts (late Bob) of Victoria, B.C., and Scott Cairncross (Mary) of Milton, Ontario; cherished aunt of Christopher Cairncross (Shona) of Milton, Bret Kelly of Toronto, and Tiffany O’Leary (Dan) of Ottawa; and dear daughter of the late John Duncan and Florence Isabelle Cairncross (née Timmins).
Bruce McCuaig describes Cairncross as a “famed and loved GDHS Phys. Ed. teacher and Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame member.
Her teaching career at Alexandria’s high school spanned 30 years. Upon retirement, she remained active, enjoying golf, kayaking, camping, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, singing, and many good times and laughs with “the best group of friends one could ever hope to have.”
At Tina's request, cremation has taken place, and a celebration of life will take place at a later date. Expressions of sympathy by way of memorial donations to the Friends of the Glengarry Trails would be appreciated by the family.
Cairncross was inducted into the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame in 2019, recognizing her coaching contribution as well as her own athletic prowess.
During her years teaching at GDHS, she coached track and field, cross country, and volleyball, with the latter being her most fervent passion. She coached the senior girls volleyball team for 30 years.
Her hall of fame induction notes, “Tina was not only a highly-skilled coach, but equally as important, was her natural ability to instill such values as learning to win, learning to lose, respect for the authority of the official, and respect.”
She was also passionate about the outdoors, participating numerous times in the Raisin River Canoe Race.
Cairncross was one of the founding members of the Friends of the Glengarry Trails, which released the following memorial upon her passing:
“We join the community in mourning, and remembering, this wonderful lady.
In the early days of the of the FGTA she served on the board and brought her outdoor education students to work on bushwhacking through the woods. In recent years she encouraged the use of the trails and led adult volunteers in maintaining them.
You will be missed. Rest In Peace, Tina.
Demonstrating Cairncross’ tremendous impact, many individuals took to Facebook to express their condolences.
Here is a selection of posts:
Robin Masterson: “Thank you so much for being a great role model and devoted community member.”
Joan McCuaig: “A wonderful coach and teacher, she touched the lives of many. Thank you! Tina will be missed.”
Bev Lemieux-Poirier: “So sad...what a loss to the community as a whole.”
Hélène Faubert was one of many to post on the Munro and Morris Memory Wall: “Dear Edwina and family, Our sincerest condolences for the loss of your dear Tina. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. She was someone who made a difference in so many people’s lives. Always happy, ready to help and made me smile every time I met her. She was genuine and always interested in how I was and what was going on in my life. I will miss her smile and our talks. Gone way too soon.”
The Memory Wall on the Munro and Morris website can be viewed here.
On a personal note, I first met Tina Cairncross when I was sports editor at The Glengarry News and covering news from the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame. She was one of many volunteers giving back to the community by contributing her time and energy to the hall. For a number of years, she was key in the annual recognition of graduating high school student-athletes at the Young Athletes Table, which is part of the summertime induction dinner and celebration that the hall of fame holds. Cairncross organized the teen honourees, preparing short biographies which she shared with me for publication in the newspaper.
I offer my sincere condolences to her family and all who knew the Glengarry sports and community icon.