Marie Durand serves up pineapple delight for dessert during the Old Age Pensioners Organization Christmas dinner held Friday, Dec. 1 at Sacred Heart Catholic School. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

SMART 55: Cooking for a crowd a passionate affair

Marie Durand was in charge of feeding guests at the OAPO Christmas dinner held last Friday in Williams Lake.

Marie Durand has been in charge of cooking large meals at the Sacred Heart Catholic Hall for many years.

When asked if she loves cooking, she chuckled, shrugged her shoulders and said, “kind of.”

“Before moving to Williams Lake in 1981, we had a restaurant in the bus depot at Atikokan in Ontario,” she said.

“Then when they built the hall at Sacred Heart I started cooking for banquets and the Catholic Women’s League.”

Last Friday, Durand was in charge of preparing the meal for 134 people who attended the annual Old Age Pensioners Organization (OAPO) Christmas Dinner, which was held at the Catholic hall.

“I had about a dozen people helping me,” Durand said of the turkey dinner she prepared that featured all the trimmings, mashed potatoes and gravy, some salads and her signature pineapple delight dessert.

“My sister-in-law Audrey Durand from Hope was visiting me for a few days and I put her to work too.”

Durand was born in Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, Manitoba, 120 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg.

She moved to the lakecity in the early 80s with her husband, Roger, who got a job at Gibraltar Mine as a heavy duty mechanic.

Roger died on Dec. 22 in 2010 and since then, Durand said Christmas time has never been the same for her.

At the dinner, Tom Scott was the evening’s MC.

Before the meal was served, he told the Tribune for the evening the acronym “OAPO” was taking on a new meaning.

“We’ve changed it for tonight to mean Outrageously Awesome Pensioners Organization,” Scott said, smiling. “I think we are pretty great. There are lots of us here for this dinner.”

After dinner, Scott and pianist. Lorraine Baker, from the Senior Carollers led the crowd singing some Christmas songs.

Manning the bar were Shelly Shobridge and Janet Williams who seemed to be having as much fun visiting with each other as they were with serving their customers.

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Members of the the Seniors Carollers, Lorraine Baker (left) and Tom Scott, also the evening’s MC, led the crowd in singing some Christmas carols after dinner. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Gene Tetreault (right) was joined by his daughters Bonnie Blain (left), Barbara Tetreault and Sandy Tetreault and his grandaughter Victoria Blain at the OAPO Christmas dinner.

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