Arlene Baillie De Graauw (April 22, 2021)
It is with our profound sadness that we announce the recent passing of Arlene Baillie De Graauw on last Thursday, April 22, 2021. Arlene had been an active and well-respected member of the Thornhill Cruisers for many years including having once served on the club executive. She was also very active in the car hobby and devoted much of her time to hobby affairs and to the various street rod associations. A regular at the Thornhill Monday night cruise she often came with her pride and joy, Baby Blue.
A deserving tribute to Arlene was made in the publication, Canadian Rodder (reprinted below).
It’s with a heavy heart that we tell you of the passing of long-time street rodder Arlene Baillie of Toronto after a long illness.
Arlene has been a prominent force in the Ontario street rodding scene for more 50 years and has influenced a lot of people through street rodding, so much so that she was inducted into the Canadian Street Rod Hall of Fame in 1994. In fact, she was also a key member of the Steering Committee for the Hall of Fame for several years, helping to acknowledge the efforts of individuals and clubs who were instrumental in promoting and advancing street rodding in Canada. Prior to that, Arlene was a long-time member of the Canadian Street Rod Association (CSRA) and served on their board of directors as well.
Arlene found her love of cars early in life, working part time at an Esso station in Innisfil. She tried to enroll in her high school’s automotive program but was refused because girls were not allowed. She switched gears and ended up in Teacher’s College and taught school for 33 years. Always a gearhead when women weren’t thought of that way, she supplemented her teacher’s salary by working at a Shell station during the week, where she got to work on cars and gained a valuable education herself. Arlene was an elder in the Queen Street Presbyterian Church where she had attended since she was a little girl. She also belonged to the Thornhill Cruisers Car Club and was a board member at one time. Arlene has owned her beautiful 1936 Ford 5 window coupe since 1972 – that’s 49 years with the same car! It was originally a stock car racer, but she brought it back to the street, with many rebuilds over the years. She named it Baby Blue and it’s had several Chevy engines under the hood, and even an Olds diesel for over 100,000 miles! It was recently rebuilt again by her friend Dave “Wiggy” Wigmore at Fraserville Mechanical and Collision and it won yet another award, this time at the Motorama show in Toronto as the Best-in-Class Street Rod Coupe. This car must have over a million miles under its wheels, and Arlene recently got a special award as one of only a few people who have attended every NSRA Nationals for 50 years in a row – every one – and always in Baby Blue!. She is the only Canadian to have done so and one of the rare female participants in this male dominated sport.
Arlene was married to Marty (De Graauw) for 37 years. She was a loving mother to Marty’s two sons and was a very proud grandmother to his children. She touched the lives of so many people everywhere she went and will be missed, and remembered, by everyone.
Rest in well-deserved peace Arlene.