Deborah Rozon: A Tribute to a very Special Cornwall Person

Written by Martin Buser- A retired Paralegal living in Cornwall.
Deborah Rozon: A Tribute to a very Special Cornwall Person
Deborah Marjorie Rozon.

Deborah recently passed away after a long debilitating illness but this won’t be about her illness but about her very special life. She was not a famous local person nor was she controversial, but she was an important individual nonetheless. She came to Cornwall from Ottawa about 38 years ago where she was the Restaurant Manager at the Ottawa Skyline Hotel. I got to know her at this hotel as I was also working there. At that time, I started dating her and it was the start of a great relationship. She was already a person who always went the extra mile in everything she did. In fact, during all the special events at the restaurant such as Christmas and Easter she made all the decorations by herself making paper cut outs and bows covering all the walls and tables of the restaurant.  She soon moved to Cornwall as her sister got a job in Ingleside at the Kraft Cheese Factory. As I did not want to lose her, I quickly obtained a driver’s license and started my weekly visits to her mostly on weekends for more than 30 years. I probably drove down the 138 Highway over 2000 times to see her over this period as I kept working in the Ottawa Hotel Industry. Her method of finding work was by going to the job site with her resume and meeting the managers without an appointment. As she was a superb Restaurant employee, she was hired immediately at the Backstreets Restaurant as a waitress. At the time, Backstreets was owned by Dr. Shannon and Don MacKay. She was an experienced person who knew all the types of service including French service and she would do flambees at your table with ease and professionalism. Many clients came to the Restaurant asking for her to serve them as she was so proficient. I became a regular at the bar as I was waiting for her to finish her shift. After her shift she also worked at the Aardvark Disco next door as a cashier which was the hot spot in Cornwall in the 80’s. I also became a fixture there to the point that when the bar was raided by the police and they were asking everybody to clear out, they said that I could stay because they thought that I was working there as well. I also remember one Thanksgiving when Snail’s Pace which, was the bar nearby, had two captive turkeys in a cage on the roof of the bar. There was a lot of talk about rescuing them, but eventually this idea was abandoned because of safety concerns. I do not know what happened to the poor turkeys. During that period, she also did a few fashion shows as a model for the Vogue Shop on Montreal Road owned by Mr. Abergoth both in the Aardvark and at the Portobello Restaurant at the Flamingo Motel on Vincent Massey drive. She even did a few television commercials for the Vogue Shop. She did a great job modelling to the sounds of Boy George and George Michael and others.

As Backstreets was going through a number of ownership changes and its popularity was diminishing Mike Anderson who was the Chef decided to relocate to Gedoro’s on Pitt Street in the early 90s. Deborah was eventually enticed to move to Gedoro’s as well by Mike and she probably brought quite a few clients with her. She then worked for Gerry Lalonde and Mike Anderson for the next decade or so. I still remember her carrying huge trays of seven full plates of food over her head to her tables with no problem. She could handle many tables at same time without any issues. I also remember on a trip to Como Italy where we walked everywhere in the town and I asked her as to why she never tired while walking throughout the town. She told me that it was because she was a waitress and walked many miles a day. I remember her telling me how she even cooked dinners for late arrivals after the chefs left on quiet nights. I remember that she once served a party of ten garage workers whose boss had given them a thousand dollars to have a Christmas staff dinner at Gedoro’s. The bill came to $550.00 and they left her a $450.00 tip. These people were still dressed in their overalls and looked grungy but she gave them the same service and respect as everyone else and they rewarded her for this. Deborah was a great fan of the Christmas celebrations. She had twelve Christmas trees fully decorated at our house with about 20 silver wreathes placed on all the windows and doors plus numerous other decorations. Deborah also enjoyed organizing the staff Christmas parties at Gedoro’s Restaurant where I usually was the MC. One year we had a Survivor TV show theme where I decided to bring in and light, a number of torches, when it came time for the vote off. Unfortunately, when I lit the torches there was so much smoke that we had to temporarily evacuate the back room of the Restaurant. One year I brought in a wheel of fortune and we also had a gift stealing game which was very popular. She was the kind of person that was well liked by everybody that she met, and many clients got to know her, and they became friends including such people as Jim O’Brien, Paul Burns and Claude McIntosh and many others. One time she was behind the bar and a prominent citizen was sitting at the bar celebrating an especially lucrative week with some friends. Suddenly he decided to light up a $100.00 bill and let it burn in his ashtray. Deborah asked him why he did this and told him that she could have used that money. The next day he came back to the bar a gave her $100 dollar bill.

Her last job was at the Nursing Home in Akwesasne on the island. She took the PSW course at St. Lawrence College in 2005 and got her Certificate with distinction. She had a few part-time jobs thereafter until she decided to go to the Nursing Home on the Island. Her approach was the same as with Backstreets. She went in unannounced, met with the boss and she was hired on the spot. She had a successful career there until 2009 when she was diagnosed with cancer. She told me about a resident who was a former Seaway Captain who enjoyed watching the ships pass by his window. She also told me how some cows got loose from the farm next door and how they would scare the residents, when they looked into the windows of the facility.

Unfortunately, this unsung Cornwall person succumbed to her illness on April 9, 2021. I am sure that she will be sorely missed by all of the Cornwall citizens that met her as she was one of those citizens who only did good deeds as she went about her daily tasks. She was truly a class act and a superb Mensch who helped make Cornwall the great city that it is!

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