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Therese 'Maman' Dion, mother of pop star Celine Dion, dead at 92
Celine Dion is pictured with her mother, Therese Dion after she was awarded with France's Legion d'Honneur, during a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris Thursday, May 22, 2008.(AP Photo/Charles Platiau, Pool)
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, January 17, 2020 1:17PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 17, 2020 4:32PM EST
MONTREAL - Therese Tanguay Dion, mother of Canadian pop sensation Celine Dion, has died.
The elder Dion, who was born Marie-Therese Tanguay but became famous throughout Quebec as “Maman Dion,” died at home Friday surrounded by family. She was 92.
Celine Dion was scheduled to perform on Friday and Saturday at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, and she said the show would go on.
“Maman, we love you so much .... We dedicate tonight's show to you, and I'll sing to you with all my heart. Love, Celine xx,” the singer wrote on Twitter.
In a statement, the family asked that their privacy be respected and said funeral details would be announced later.
Social media networks were inundated with condolences from fans of Celine Dion after the news began to spread Friday, and some members of Quebec's political class also paid tribute to the matriarch of the Dion family.
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. She also founded the Fondation Maman Dion in 2006 to support the education of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Born on March 20, 1927, she met her future husband Adhemar Dion in 1940s while living in La Tuque. They fell in love and married, and they would go on to have 14 children - with Celine the youngest.
After he worked for several years as a lumberjack, removed from his family, the clan settled for good in Charlemagne, in the Lanaudiere region north of Montreal, in the 1950s.
Unsurprisingly, music occupied a special place in the family. Therese Dion played violin and Adhemar the accordion. And everyone sang.
Therese Dion wrote Celine's first song, “Ce n'etait qu'un reve” (It was only a dream), which she sent to impresario Rene Angelil in the hope of convincing him to take her teen daughter under his wing.
Angelil accepted and the stage was set for Dion to become one of the most popular singers on the planet.
With her daughter's success assured, Therese Dion went into business, marketing 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.
In 2006 she set up the foundation in her name to support to 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.
A few months earlier on the occasion of her 92nd birthday, Celine Dion paid tribute to her mother on Instagram.
“Maman, if I could be half as strong as you are, this would be my biggest accomplishment. I know you put all your dreams aside to raise a family,” she wrote. “When you wrote my very first song, 'It was only a dream,' who knew that it would become a reality?”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2020.