We at the Kenneth G. Mills Foundation are sad to announce that our dear friend Hermine Garrick passed away on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, at Hospice Vaughan. She was comforted in her last days by the constant presence of Marylyn Skeete, aid from remarkable neighbours, and visits by other friends and family. Nurse and friend Ann Marie Gonda assisted at the hospice.
An enthusiastic and exuberant exponent of Dr. Kenneth G. Mills and his work since 1972, Hermine sometimes spoke in poetry and published a book of her poems, Echo: A Sound of Praise, dedicated to her mentor. She received the Editor’s Choice Award for outstanding achievement in poetry, presented by the National Library of Poetry, and a number of her poems were published in anthologies.
“A Flame Burns Bright” by Hermine Garrick
In the constancy of Love’s Power and Grace,
Within the heart I’ve found a place,
And in that spot a flame burns bright
As Love holds me fast in that Centre of Light.
It gives the wisdom to plant the correct seed
To show the wonder of Life in every deed.
Hermine actively supported the Foundation’s archiving activities. She organized and compiled all the photographs into albums, as well as helping Jackolyn Elliott and Jan Butler with the scrapbooks. In recognition of this invaluable work, the Foundation awarded Hermine the Volunteer of the Year Award at its 2021 annual general meeting.
She was also known for her elegance, evident in the flare with which she wore gowns made by her mother. Hermine can be seen on YouTube acknowledging her mother and reading the poem “Happy Mother’s Day”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZdtGpFEo7k. When Dr. Mills was designing and showing haute couture fashions, Hermine assisted the models in their gown changes, especially during the runway show at the McLean House in Toronto. She aligned each gown and inspected its flow, knowing the demands of what it meant to be a “figure of fashion.”
Hermine was born and raised in Jamaica. With training as a medical technologist, she was quickly recognized for her skills and worked in the clinic of one of the top family physicians on the island. In 1958 she came to Toronto to study racehorse chemistry, owing to her love of horses in Jamaica. Hermine went on to earn a bachelor of science degree from York University and hoped to become a doctor. Her life took a different turn, however, and she later specialized in pathology in her work as a technologist. For many years she was a supervisor in the laboratories of Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, until her retirement in 2000.
In one of her many expressions of gratitude, she said to Dr. Mills: “It’s such a wonderful life that you have given me from being in your Presence.”