The city published official confirmation of the death of Desjardins on its website and Facebook page, along with condolences for his family. Desjardins was undergoing treatment for Stage 4 cancer and passed away last week. Residents have since posted hundreds of comments on the page, expressing their sorrow and sympathy.
“Mayor Desjardins for me is an example of dedication to his community,” said Councillor Carl Grimard. Over the years, he made a constant effort to be present at every community event such as fundraisers, various business openings and social events. He always had a special attention to anyone he talked to. He also lit up a room with his contagious smile and positive attitude. Even during difficult times such as the past floods in our city, Mayor Desjardins kept a 'Let's find a solution together' attitude in every situation. He served his community for 15 years and will be missed.”
Desjardins the mayor
Desjardins was elected mayor in 2014, after serving as a councillor. He sought and won re-election in 2018 and planned to step down from municipal politics at the end of his second term.
“Guy was a larger than life, community-oriented people person,” said Councillor André J. Lalonde, “a humorous but yet a no nonsense French-Canadian farmer, a seasoned politician, devoted family man and a beloved husband. He was always the joker to either lighten the moment or to make someone feel at ease in a tough situation. Guy came in as mayor at a critical time for Clarence-Rockland. Confidence in council was at a long time low and the city was the laughingstock of the country. We were making the news for all the wrong reasons and someone like Guy was needed to steer the boat back on course which he did very well.”
Desjardins the man
“I have so many memories and good times had with our mayor,” said Councillor Mario Zanth, “from both of our golf games being subpar at best, to non-stop joking with him about anything and everything. He could dish it and take it, as we say. He always had a smile, laughing, making everyone feel at ease. He would always shake everyone’s hand before council meetings, setting the tone of friendship and camaraderie. He wouldn’t shy away from telling you he loved you and always made you feel at ease in one-on-one conversations. I will miss him at every meeting, his presence was larger than life. RIP my friend”
Last year when the public health state of emergency was declared because of the pandemic, Desjardins went into immediate self-isolation as required for all seniors who were considered the most at risk then for COVID-19. He continued doing his duties as mayor through virtual meetings of council and council committees while also managing his commercial greenhouse gardening business. Before the pandemic, Desjardins was a regular part of several farmers markets in the region, smiling and chatting with visitors to his stall and displaying with pride the results of his greenhouse gardens.
When he wasn’t dealing with council business, working in his greenhouses, or planting some new additions to his apple orchard, Desjardins most enjoyed going for walks in the summer, cross-country skiing in winter, and spending time year-round with his family.
“Take a walk outside,” he said, smiling, during a past interview. “The sunshine can perk up anybody.”