'Maman, we love you so much': Therese Dion, mother of superstar Celine Dion, has died at age 92
Published Friday, January 17, 2020 11:29AM EST Last Updated Saturday, January 18, 2020 4:45PM EST
MONTREAL -- Therese Dion, the mother of Quebec superstar Céline Dion - and 13 other children - and a cultural figure in her own right who was known colloquially throughout Quebec as "Maman Dion," has died.
Dion was 92. She died surrounded by family and friends on Friday morning.
This past summer, Claudette Dion, Therese Dion's eldest child, announced that her mother had been dealing with several significant health issues, including memory loss and hearing and vision impairment.
Céline, Therese's youngest child, expressed her sadness on Twitter Friday, writing "Maman, we love you so much" and saying she is dedicating Friday's show in Miami, Florida to her, adding that "I'll sing to you with all of my heart."
Céline took to the stage in Miami on Friday despite the loss, telling the crowd: "I know for sure that she wanted me to be the best of myself tonight. I also know that she wanted all of you to have the time of your life."
Dion's longtime publicist Francine Chaloult confirmed in a statement that died peacefully at home. She asked that the family's privacy be respected and said funeral details will be announced at a later time.
Prine Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter to write: "Quebec is mourning the passing of Maman Dion today. Thérèse Dion has a special place in our hearts – she was an icon in her own right & a generous philanthropist. My thoughts are with Celine Dion and her entire family during this difficult time."
Quebec Premier Francois Legault extended his condolences on Twitter, saying her loss is being felt by the entire province. "A remarkable woman, so generous, so loving, who devoted her whole life to the well-being of her family," Legault wrote.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante wrote that Therese Dion was "proof that a mother's love can make all dreams possible."
In addition to being mother to an international superstar, Dion was a notable television personality in Quebec with her own cooking show and a line of food products, Maman Dion foods, inspired by her husband's favourite pasta dish.
After appearing on a popular talk show to discuss her venture, she launched a new career on television.
She hosted a cooking program for two years dubbed "Maman Dion" between 1999 and 2001, and for two more she hosted "Brunch de Maman Dion" where she welcomed guests and prepared meals.
She also founded the Fondation Maman Dion in 2006 to support the education of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"My parents raised me like this, helping the less fortunate people in life," she told The Canadian Press in 2009.
In 2015, Therese Dion received the Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division) from the governor general, recognizing her work with the foundation. Last May, she received the National Assembly medal from Marguerite Blais.
Born Marie-Thérèse Tanguay on March 20, 1927, Dion grew up in La Tuque with her parents. She met Adhémar Dion in the 1940s.
They fell in love and married, but struggled in early years, because Adhémar insisted he did not want to have children. He eventually changed his mind and the couple went on to have 14 children.
After working for several years as a lumberjack, a job that often kept him away from his family, Adhémar Dion finally settled with his wife and children in Charlemagne, in the Lanaudière, in the 1950s.
Unsurprisingly, music occupied a special place in the family. Thérèse Dion played the violin, Adhémar, the accordion – and everyone sings, of course.
It was Thérèse who wrote Céline's first song, 'It was only a dream', which she sent to impresario René Angélil, in the hopes of convincing him to take her teenage daughter under his wing.
He accepted, and we know the rest: Céline went on to become one of the most popular divas on the planet.
On Mother's Day, Céline paid tribute to her mother on Instagram.
"Now more than ever, I realize the importance of a mother’s role. Not only did you give me life, but you also wrote my destiny. I love you Mom," she wrote.
In another Instagram post in March, on her mother's birthday, the superstar singer was pictured on a jet with her mother, and praised her strength.
"Maman, if I could be half as strong as you are, this would be my biggest accomplishment. I know you put all of your dreams aside to raise a family. When you wrote my very first song, “It Was Only A Dream” who knew that it would become a reality? Happy Birthday! I love you!! – Celine xx….
- With a report from Caroline St-Pierre of The Canadian Press