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Guilherme Vincent Mendes de Franca

Guilherme Vincent Mendes de Franca

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021
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MENDES de FRANCA, Vincent -

Peacefully on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at Unionville, Ontario after a life very well-lived. Vincent, age 83, was the beloved husband of Rita Mendes de Franca (nee Duarte) for 61 years, the loving father of Susan Mendes de Franca (John Carruthers), Debra Mendes de Franca Poirier (Marc Poirier), Mary Mendes de Franca (Steve Maxwell), Diane Mendes de Franca (John Baldassarra), and Vincent Mendes de Franca (Susan Arthur). He was the caring Grandpa to 16 adoring grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren and a beloved uncle to many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his father Willy, his mother Juliet, and his brother Dennis. He is survived by his sister Maureen and his brother Michael. His warmth, kindness, and smile made him a friend to all.

Born in Georgetown, Guyana in 1937, Vincent completed his high school education at St. Stanislaus College in 1954 and was a proud St. Stan’s Old Boy. After graduation, he began his career in Guyana with the Royal Bank of Canada. After 6 years with Royal Bank, he accepted an offer of employment with Colgate-Palmolive in Guyana. Over the next 20 years, he assumed increasing positions of leadership and responsibility with Colgate-Palmolive in Trinidad, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Brazil. With Rita by his side and caring for a growing family, their adventure together was one of love and happiness, many moves, many homes, and becoming linguistically and culturally fluent in both Spanish and Portuguese. Their lives were enriched by the many close friendships that were nurtured in Latin America which endure to this day.

In 1981, Vincent was given the opportunity to relocate from Brazil to Canada and assume the role of President of Colgate-Palmolive Canada. The move reunited Vincent and Rita with their brothers who had earlier immigrated to Canada. In 1984, Vincent, Rita, and their children became citizens of Canada. Vincent served in his role as President until his retirement in 1993. While he worked hard, Vincent always enjoyed spending time with his family, reading the newspaper, drinking red wine, listening to Julio Iglesias, golfing with friends, and cheering for Brazil in the World Cup.

Blessed with good health, a boyish enthusiasm for anything that was fun, a love of children, and a willingness to offer his help before it was even asked for, he and Rita embarked upon what would become his second and even more successful career, that of Grandpa. He was a babysitter, a chauffeur, a coach, a cook, a golf partner, a listening ear, a highway traveller, a teacher of Guyanese songs, a weekly restaurant host, a supplier of treats, a graduation attendee, a generous benefactor, and a passionate fan of everything that his grandchildren were participating in. Even to the friends of his grandchildren, he was simply known as Grandpa. They will never forget the warm abrazos that he always greeted them with.

A devout Roman Catholic, Vincent was able to attend and enjoy Mass for all but the last year. The faith that he and Rita shared helped them immensely on their journey through life together.

While Vincent faced bravely the debilitating challenges of Alzheimer’s disease over the past 5 years, he never complained. His warm disposition, his joyful laugh, and his love for his wife and family never faded. He leaves a remarkable and enduring legacy in the children that he raised, the leaders that he mentored, the friends that he made, and the memories that he and Rita created.

At this time, the family would like to give special thanks to Vincent’s caregiver, Precy, to Father Rick, and to the team at Amica Unionville for their care during the latter period of Vincent’s life.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a private interment will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery in Thornhill on Friday, January 8, 2021.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Newediuk Funeral Home. Online condolences at

Rest in peace, Vincent. You have earned it.
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Heartfelt Sympathies

Posted at 10:18am
Dear Susan, John, Martha and William, Our sincere sympathy to your family during this difficult time. Warmest Wishes from Scott and Nicole McBurney

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Heartfelt Sympathies

Posted at 09:26pm

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Posted at 02:42pm
Dear Rita.
Sue and I were so sad to see the notice of Vincent’s passing in the Globe and Mail. We still remember well the good times our two families had when we all met in the 1980’s. Vincent had a full and remarkable life and had years to enjoy your grandchildren and great grandchildren. I have very strong and fond memories of Vincent and me growing up together as friends in Georgetown BG.
The clearest memory I have of us as children was the Scholarship Class at Sacred Heart School on Main Street. The Department of Education had annual scholarship exams for students graduating from 6TH Standard. These were very good scholarships which paid your way through high school, school fees, books, and monthly living allowance. Sacred Heart and our 6th Standard teacher, Mr. Dyell, had a reputation for winning scholarships every year. So, we worked extremely hard in his class. He even held tutorials at his home at night and on Saturdays for the scholarship class.
You had to be under the age of 12 to write the government exams, so picture a group of 11 year olds working all hours at schoolwork to prepare for this. Vincent and I as well as well as some other friends were there in the 1948-49 school year. I remember this as the hardest I ever worked in school. I cannot imagine a group of 11 year old children today working that hard to achieve anything. With a clear goal, a dedicated teacher and strong parental support we learned a great lesson in life, that even an 11 year old could accomplish big goals. I am sure that Vincent’s marvelous success in his career and life was partly due to this experience as an 11 year old.
That year, 1949, Mr. Dyell’s Sacred Heart class won four of the top scholarships in the country. Trevor Newman, another friend won one of the three top County Scholarships; another classmate and Vincent and I won three scholarships of the 12 available to three counties. However, there was a hitch in awarding the 12 scholarships, since someone from another school, as well as Vincent and I had identical total marks. The Department of Education then granted 14 scholarships in 1949. We went off to Saint Stanislaus College with all the other scholarship winners. My family left for Canada the next year, so I had only one year there.
Sue and I are thinking of you at this sad time and send you and your family our sincere condolences.
William and Sue Leslie

PS. The photo attached is of Vincent on the left, his two cousins Frank and ? Ezecieles? in our backyard at the Londonburgh Hotel. I assume that I was taking the picture. William

Marc Goldthorp

Posted at 01:43pm
The following excerpt is from a recent university application, in which I was asked about the importance of character in leadership. Specifically, it questioned if the virtues of courage, humility, and humanity are equally as important as accountability, drive, and integrity. Luckily, I did not need to look any further than the man who has inspired me my whole life.

What my grandfather, Vincent, has always demonstrated to me is that success cannot be defined in one way or by triumphs in a single area. A successful life means coming full circle, working hard to rise to the top, sharing your success with those important to you, and finally giving the future generation opportunities to be successful after you have left your mark. It means striking a balance, and not only being a good businessman (accountability, drive, and integrity), but also being an outstanding person (courage, humanity, and humility). Without drive, my grandfather would not have been able to work hard to secure himself a scholarship to go to high school, rise to the top of his class, and one day become the President of various Colgate Palmolive country operations. Without courage, he would have been unable to move his family to Canada, in hopes of providing a safer life for themselves and their children. Without accountability, he wouldn’t have been able to be a loving father and husband while maintaining a high stress job. Without humility, he wouldn’t have driven his 1998 Toyota Avalon for over 15 years, solely because of the countless memories it contained. Without humanity, he wouldn’t have supported the Rita and Vincent Mendes de Franca Scholarship at Western, helping international students finance their dreams of attending the university. And finally, without integrity, he wouldn’t be the beloved man he is today, who still golfed with former employees twice a week before he became unable to do so. My grandfather shows me that not only are these virtues equal in value and merit, but are essential to becoming the person that I strive to be.

And so, I thank you grandpa for always showing me that a great life is one that appreciates and cherishes every amazing moment it has to offer. A big abrazo from me.


Dan Schmitt

Posted at 09:48am
Dear Rita, Vince, and Family

I worked with Vincent for about 10 years at Colgate Canada in both the Marketing Department and directly with him helping to secure the acquisition and integration of the Bristol Meyers Household Products Business, under Vincent's leadership. This was the most important business event in the history of Colgate Canada's history, as it led to a significant evolution in the Company's market position, sales, and profitability.
But more than all of that, Vincent did 3 other things that I will always remember. He believed in having a strong work-life balance, and offered a new Colgate benefit of a gym membership that we could use to work-out, play tennis or squash, or just hang-out. Although this seems common-place today, at the time this was very progressive and unique in Toronto's work-places. Second, Vincent was a big believer in cross-functional learning and job improvement training. He brought-in very thorough and extensive training programs to us as employees of Colgate, over many years. Last, and most memorable to me, Vincent came to me one day and asked me to help him learn how to play golf. He was a big tennis player but was a non-golfer. I was very surprised but honoured that he would ask me, a much lower level employee, to help him. We first went to the driving range several times, and then began playing some initial rounds of golf together. He was always gracious and was never afraid to be embarrassed with his initial shot-making on the links, in front of me and others. After his initial year of picking up the game, he became very proficient and we played 100's of rounds together over the years. For many of these games, I would pick him up at his home and we would drive together to various golf courses in the GTA. However, there was no driving a power cart - we walked the 18 every time! We always played a very small betting game on Par 3's called "Sugars" - closest to the pin with the tee shot would win you 50 cents. Vincent was a "master" at this and won most of the time. I remember always having to pull out my wallet afterwards. It became so common that I would have to always remember to bring enough "change" to pay him my lost bets in coins.

Rest in Peace Vincent: You are fondly remembered by so many people - like me!

Dan Schmitt

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