Brian Sempowski

Obituary of Brian Thomas Shephard Sempowski


Brian Thomas Shephard Sempowski


Brian had a beautiful life and many more adventures in his 27 years than we ever could have hoped for.


But it is with profound sadness that we announce his death from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He will be dearly missed by his parents, Dr. Suzanne Shephard and Dr. Ian Sempowski, sister Michelle Sempowski, along with Suzanne’s husband Professor Robin Dawes, and Ian’s wife Dr Katherine Kovacs.


Pauline Kirkham has been by his side since he was four years old, and along with us, will forever miss his love, his wisdom, and the lessons learned every day from his remarkable breadth of knowledge and positive approach to life.


From a young age, Brian appreciated the beauty in tulips and Black-eyed Susans and the music of John Lennon. He found joy in his vast collections of pins and rubber ducks, ever-changing room decor, and he chronicled his extensive travels with his postcards, photography, and miniature monument souvenirs. He made us smile with baby Yodas, dancing Jellycats, Totoros, and sloths. He made us laugh, cry, or scratch our heads with his quirky playlists and unique taste in podcasts, TV, and literature (Greek Mythology, Dr. Who, Chthulu). He was a connoisseur of disaster movies and science fiction, and found quiet joy in musicals, food videos, and Lilo and Stitch.


Above all, he valued continuing his education and sharing his incredible intelligence with us.

His fascination with art and history led him to travel throughout the U.S. and Europe including London, Berlin, Paris, Florence, Chicago, New York, Boston and Washington. He loved galleries and museums, and was always able to guide us to the famous works, especially those of van Gogh. He never forgot a single detail.


Brian had an unfailing lack of self pity and a passion for justice. Through his course work in Indigenous studies, race relations, and women and gender issues at St. Lawrence College, he took every opportunity to advocate for those less fortunate and made us all better people in the process.


We will always cherish the ways Brian showed love through incredibly thoughtful gifts, his signature photo collage cards, and his shared excitement for his sister’s adventures. He celebrated life every day and had a special love for the holidays, even creating his own themed days, giving us more occasions to decorate, feast, and laugh.


He was so loved by his family including his grandparents Dawn Shephard (and the late Ron Shephard), Martha and John Sempowski, aunts and uncles Mary Donaghy (and her late husband Greg), Meg Stokes (Pete), Michelle Shephard (Jim Rankin), Greg Sempowski (Melissa) and cousins, Katherine, Michael, and Stephen, Ben and Julia, Natalie and Kelly. We cannot express enough thanks to Patti Louttit, who was by our side in the final days.


The world has lost a very brilliant light but we know it will shine through those who knew and loved him.


A memorial will be held at the Tett Centre on March 26th in Kingston, Ontario, with remarks at 2pm for family and close friends, followed by a drop-in reception from 2:30-5:30 pm. Donations can be made in Brian’s memory to Muscular Dystrophy Canada here.

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