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VALERIE ANNE-OWEN (RUNIONS)
Born: Nov 20, 1950
Date of Passing: Jan 08, 2022Send Flowers to the Family Offer Condolences or Memory
November 20, 1950 January 8, 2022
Born in Antler, Saskatchewan, Valerie Anne-Owen (Runions) was the eldest child of Ken and Sarah Runions. With the addition of brothers, Gordon (deceased), Neil (deceased) and Ivan, the family spent most of their their early years in Virden, Manitoba, living in a house that today is the Virden Pioneer Home Museum. Valerie often told stories of a wonderful prairie upbringing of church and farm life.
At the age of 16, Valerie set off on her own to build a life where she could be her own person. Through grit and determination, she supported herself working in Winnipeg as a bank teller and putting herself through high school. It was an exciting time for her, full of independence, new experiences, learning and potential.
With a high school diploma in hand and as a young mother to Milana, Valerie took the first steps on her journey to become one of Canada's top restaurateurs. Valerie loved being her own boss and was known for her decisiveness, working harder than anyone else and doing whatever it took - including working for the Winnipeg Free Press and driving as a Pink Lady courier to earn extra money to fund her ventures. Over the course of her career, Valerie was proprietor of three award-winning fine dining restaurants in Winnipeg: Restaurant Dubrovnik, Le Beaujolais and Provence Bistro.
Valerie elevated fine dining in Canada by focusing on quality, innovation and service. She constantly strove for excellence, training at the Culinary Institute of America and being an active member of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, an international gastronomic society. Her love of food and her belief that food was love was something she carried into retirement. To her family's constant amusement, so did her inclination for buying ingredients in bulk.
Being proprietor of 'the best' restaurant in town allowed her to dance on the world stage, hosting or meeting celebrities, royalty, world leaders including Canadian prime ministers, premiers, Mother Teresa and even a pope. However, she found her greatest joys in the connections she made with her teams and loyal customers.
In April 1991, one of Valerie's regular restaurant customers, Brian Owen, called to ask her to be his guest at a fundraising event three months away. She said yes, and the suggestion was made that they meet to get to know each other better before the event. By the time that charity dinner rolled around, they were sweethearts who would marry and spend the next three decades together -totally in love.
In 2008, Valerie retired and moved to Vancouver with Brian. She loved her life on the West Coast, enjoying cycling and rollerblading on the seawall and running and hiking in Vancouver's parks with the family dogs, Sunshine and Shadow. Remarkable for two farm kids growing up on the landlocked prairies, she and Brian learned to sail and made many memories on their boat, AWOL.
Above all, Valerie loved her large family. She was forever finding ways to spend time with relatives near and far, constantly hosting us and making travel plans. She treasured and embraced every family gathering. She will be particularly missed by her husband Brian, her children, Todd (Marnie), Tim (Alison) and Heather (Bill); her amazing granddaughters, Tessa, Solange, Naomi and Carmen, her brother Ivan (Catherine); her many in-laws: Caryl (Peter), Jane, Jan (Dave) Jocelyn, Don (Elaine), Colleen (Reid) and Pat (Dale), as well as two generations of cousins, nieces and nephews.
When Valerie talked about her life, she flashed her dazzling smile and said, "I was so lucky," implying that the beautiful life she built with Brian, her success as an entrepreneur, and the rich collection of family and friends who surrounded her somehow happened by chance. While contradicting Valerie was an action to be taken with great caution, we disagree that she was lucky - Valerie made her own luck.
Valerie, you made our world a brighter and better place. If anyone is lucky, it's us - lucky to have shared your incredible journey. We will always miss you.
Details of a Celebration of Life will be available at a later time.
Instead of flowers, we invite you to share your best memories of Valerie at owenzen.com/vao. For those wishing to make a donation in her name, please consider the Virden Pioneer Home Museum or BC Cancer Care.
As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Jan 15, 2022
Condolences & Memories (10 entries)
I worked for Valerie, though for a short time, at Provence. Although she was sometimes tough to work for due to her high standards for service, food and of her staff, she was inspiring, full of grace and offered advice when warranted. When Valerie and Brian were making their move to BC, Valerie invited me over to take a look at some of the items she couldn't take with her but hated to say goodbye to. A few crystal platters and appetizer plates are still a part of my collection almost 15 years later. I won't forget sitting in her condo on the floor with her at the Castle on the Seine saying our last goodbyes and chatting about food, work and the future. - Posted by: Angie Coe (Staff) on: Apr 02, 2022
Our deepest condolences to you and your family over the devastating news of Valerie’s passing. She was a wonderful person with such a kind and caring heart. Always ready to step up for family and friends. Never afraid of hard work or lending a hand. May your memories of your time together remain clear, bringing you many smiles, some laughter and the warmth of her love. The Urness family - Posted by: Laura Urness (Cousin ) on: Feb 07, 2022
Our deepest condolences to the family. Valerie will always be in our hearts. - Posted by: Michel and Svitlana Pelletier (Friends) on: Jan 17, 2022
Very sorry to hear of Valerie’s passing. She was a lovely person and I fond memories of working with her on the first Share our Strength Dinner in Winnipeg. Condolences to Brian, Heather and the entire family. - Posted by: jackie dragojevic (Friend) on: Jan 17, 2022
Brian and family, We are sending our sincere condolences as your remember and celebrate Valerie. She will be fondly remembered and missed by all whose lives she touched. Ugo and Maria De Nardi, Tom and Lesley De Nardi & family, Liana De Nardi. - Posted by: Ugo & Maria De Nardi (Friends - Fellow Chaine Members) on: Jan 17, 2022
Condolences Brian and families in your loss of Valerie, who was my classmate in Virden and good friend, spending happy times together in both her home and mine. It is wonderful to know she had such success during her career, and so many happy years full of love and family. - Posted by: Norma Welch Cole (School mate) on: Jan 16, 2022
I have had the pleasure to have been Valerie’s hairdresser for a number of years. I always looked forward to seeing her. I feel honoured to have known her. She included me in her life in such a way that only Valerie could do. She was an incredible person who was generous with everything. Her life stories and her advice helped me through many situations. When I say she was my most favourite client, I’m not just saying that, I actually mean that. I will miss you Valerie. Rest In Peace. - Posted by: Tindi Chohan (Hairdresser) on: Jan 15, 2022
Our heartfelt condolences to Brian and your family. I was saddened to hear my friend Valerie Anne-Owen has passed away. As business owners on Provencher Blvd. we were part of an ambitious group that formed the French Quarter BIZ. From that time on Val became a mentor to me, shaping an Early Years Teacher (me) into a restauranteur with her guidance, encouragement and humour. Her work ethic was quite extraordinary; everything she touched became a success through her careful planning skills and boundless energy. One of my fondest memories was when we (Lazy Dog Music) teamed up with Le Beaujolais to produce a 15-day Blues by the Bridge festival during the 1999 Pan Am Games. Where else could you find a martini bar, bison burgers and blues? It was always a pleasure to be in Val's presence. She was caring and generous to those surrounding her. I will miss her. - Posted by: Mary Anne and Barry Shore (Friends) on: Jan 15, 2022
So sorry to hear of Valerie's passing - such a wonderful woman. Our sincere thoughts and prayers are with you Brian, Todd, Heather and Tim and your families. - Posted by: Brian and Jo-Anne Janzen (Friend) on: Jan 15, 2022
Valerie such a happy person, she cares to all who works for her family. Your memory will be missed. - Posted by: Ella Guiyab (Heather Owen previous caregiver ) on: Jan 15, 2022
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