Leamington Man Wins $90,000+ in Hogs for Hospice 50/50 Raffle
January 14, 2022
Southpoint Sun, Written by Mark Ribble
LEAMINGTON — When Dennis Dowker’s phone rang around 11:15 am on Friday, December 31,he was in the kitchen tending to his cats, Martini and Rossi. When he answered it, an unfamiliar voice on the other end surprised him with the news he had won $90,775.
“It was quite emotional for me,” he said. “I was totally surprised.” Of course, on the other end was none other than Joe Oswald and the rest of the Hogs for Hospice committee, doing their holiday good deed by awarding such a hefty sum.
Dennis Dowker has lived in Leamington since 2016 and is the first Leamington resident to capture the Hogs 50-50 raffle. The call was an emotional one for Dennis, as the Erie Shores Hospice holds a very special place in his heart.
“It’s a wonderful place with wonderful people,” he says. His partner, Sandy Morgan, passed away at Erie Shores Hospice
in December 2020, leaving Dennis to ponder his future without the love of his life.
He and Sandy had often joked about winning the Hogs raffle and buying motorcycles. “We always had this silly dream that we’d like to have a motorcycle,” he said. Sandy and Dennis had just returned from a five-week trip to New Zealand when Sandy got his cancer diagnosis. Sandy had been a popular and beloved member of the community here, after a 33-year career as the research chef for Heinz Canada. He had retired here and met Dennis about 10 years ago. They
married in May of 2016 and Dennis sold his place in Windsor and moved to Leamington to be with Sandy.
Now 76, Dennis had grown up on a farm near Erieau and spent much of his life teaching at Fanshawe and Centennial College, Ryerson University and finally St. Clair College, where he was associate Vice President of Academics, working closely with now College President Patti France. Although he and Sandy only had a decade together, he’s grateful
for that time. “We packed so much living into that time,” said Dennis. “We traveled, we attended all sorts
of shows, symphonies and just loved life.”
The two also joined a local coffee group in Leamington. Sandy attended the group every day, while Dennis usually only joined on Fridays. “That group loved Sandy and have been so good to me since his passing,” says Dennis. He’s grateful to friends and neighbours, who have kept him busy every day. “You could not ask for better neighbours,” he says. “Leamington has been a very wonderful place for us to live.”
On Friday, January 7, Dennis was presented with a giant cheque by four members of the Hogs for Hospice Committee and Erie Shores Health Foundation CEO Christine Colautti. The meeting took place at the Erie Shores Hospice office and things got emotional once more as Dennis shared his stories of life with Sandy and how much the Hospice means to him. It was his first visit to the Hospice grounds since Sandy’s passing. “This place is so special to me,” he said.
Joe Oswald talked about the special story and connection Dennis has to the Hospice and what it means to the group.
“There is always a great story from each of the winners we’ve had so far, but your story has a close connection to the Hospice itself,” said Oswald. “That touches us in ways that you can’t imagine. You’re now part of a special
Committee member Donny Pacheco shared a story of his cousin, who passed away at the Hospice Erie Shores Campus and left a young family behind. “This place has touched almost everyone in this community through family and friends,” he said. “This is why we do what we do.” Christine Colautti was touched by Dennis’ story as well.
“It is truly a pleasure to congratulate you once again Dennis and thank you for sharing your experience at Hospice and in doing so, honouring the memory of Sandy, “she said.
Dave Hodare and Brian Cornies were the other two members of the committee in attendance for the presentation, with Tim Iles, Benji Mastronardi and Kevin Safrance unable to make it. Now, with an extra $90,775 in his pocket, Dennis plans on finishing off some renovations to the townhome that he shared with Sandy, and sharing some of
his winnings with his two sisters.