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Baertsoen Family Donates Children’s Books in Memory of Beloved Daughter

Chris and Kerry Baertsoen, retired educators with St. Clair Catholic, have donated copies of the children’s book, The Tale of the Three Trees, to school libraries across the district, in memory of their daughter, Victoria.  Victoria died in a tragic car accident in Wallaceburg last May 2023.  She had just begun her teaching career with St. Clair Catholic and was also an employee of Sombra Township Childcare.

“Our daughter left us an inspiring message,” Kerry says.  “’Grow through what you go through.’ We found that quote on a sticker on her computer.  It is her legacy to us; and we want to honour it.”

“That’s why The Tale of the Three Trees is the perfect gift to schools in Victoria’s memory,” says Chris. 

It is the story of three trees that stand beside each other in the forest and dream of what they want to become.  One wants to be a treasure chest, another an ocean-going ship and the third a signpost pointing to God.  When they are cut down, at first it appears their dreams have not been realized.  One becomes a feed trough for animals, the next a small and smelly fishing boat and the third is cut into huge planks.  But then, they find that God has a greater plan.  The feed trough becomes a manger in Bethlehem and one day holds the greatest treasure of all; the smelly fishing boat carries Christ and His disciples across the sea; and the planks become the cross on which Christ would be crucified – a symbol that in the centuries since has pointed people towards God.

“Our faith is really important to us,” Kerry says.  “We wanted to find a story that expressed both God’s love and Victoria’s ‘grow through what you go through’ view of life.”

The donation of the books was made possible with support from the Baertsoens’ good friends, Al Bechard and Kevin Wise.

Photographed with students from Holy Family Catholic School in Wallaceburg (Back Row Left to Right): Kerry & Chris Baertsoen; Al Bechard; Colleen Cogghe, Principal of Holy Family Catholic School

“This wonderful story teaches us a lesson that it is our responsibility to become vessels of integrity in order to become the best person we can possibly be, to accept the path we’re given and to serve others with love and compassion,” says Kevin Wise. “What a beautiful tribute to Victoria.”

Chris and Kerry visited the principals of every school in the St. Clair district to hand deliver the books, which are beautifully inscribed in memory of Victoria.