Former Ontario lieutenant-governor David Onley remembered at funeral as role model, family man

Former Ontario lieutenant-governor David Onley is being remembered today as a tireless advocate, a role model and a devoted husband, father and grandfather.

Onley, who emerged as a champion of disability rights both during and after his seven-year stint as Ontario’s 28th lieutenant-governor, died at age 72 on Jan. 14.

Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell is the first of many dignitaries to deliver a eulogy at Onley’s funeral today, and she says above all else he was a family man.

Onley used a motorized scooter throughout his life after contracting polio as a child and frequently drew on his lived experience when highlighting existing accessibility barriers.

Dowdeswell says Onley was an inspiration and a role model without comparison, working every day to ensure the lieutenant-governor’s office was a transformational force for good.

Prior to becoming lieutenant-governor, Onley spent more than two decades working at Citytv.

Members of the public, as well as dignitaries, are attending the funeral and Neil Hewitt, who attended the same church as Onley, says his father lost the use of one leg due to polio and Onley inspired him.

Joan Miles, another community member who was there to pay her respects, said she had a cousin who had polio and she admired Onley for his advocacy.

“I appreciated very much his presence on media, on Citytv and the fact that he … insisted on doing his broadcasting with the (scooter) visible,” Miles said.

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