The weeks-long saga of a missing woman with dementia that pulled the community together ended sadly last week.
The body of Grace Baranyk was found on August 20 not far from where she went missing, which was her home on Lenora Crescent, Chilliwack RCMP said in a statement issued August 23.
Remains had been found and were thought to be of the missing 86-year-old, something confirmed by the BC Coroners Services.
“Police do not believe that criminality was involved in Ms. Baranyk’s death,” RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Rail said in the press release.
The discovery of Baranyk offers a measure of closure, if a sad one, to a search the grabbed the attention of the community and indeed much of Fraser Valley.
Baranyk went missing on July 13 and nearly immediately the public galvanized around search efforts organized mostly by strangers.
A small and growing group led by Lisa Bisschop first set up in the parking lot of the downtown McDonald’s parking lot where volunteer searchers shared information on where they had looked. Bisschop and her informal team moved later to a command centre in front of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on School Street.
Ten days after the local search began, some family members from Alberta came to town to speak to police and the media, and assist with the search.
As the news was confirmed on Friday that she had been found deceased, sentiments poured out on the Facebook page dedicated to the search.
On August 24, her nephew Dick Richards who had come to Chilliwack to help, posted about a celebration of life planned for Grace. It will be held at St. Paul’s (8871 School St.) on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. where the command centre had been.
“We thought this was fitting,” Richards posted. “Thank you for your continuing support. #keepgraceinthelight. Take care of yourselves and take care of each other.”
Richards said further that some people had been asking him if there was a recommended place to make donations. His father, Grace’s brother, and he decided that donations to the Canadian Dementia Action Network were appropriate.