Canadian Club and Champagne Toasts

There were few places that Darlene “Dar” Babcock enjoyed more than spending time at the Elk’s Lodge surrounded by family and friends. You’d expect to see Dar there on any given weeknight laughing with fellow members or enjoying dinner with Chet, the love of her life and her husband of 54 years.

So it was only fitting that Dar’s visitation on Tuesday night reflected who she was and what she loved—an evening full of family, friends, laughter, food and of course, her favorite drink, Canadian Club and water. With an open bar serving wine, beer (and yes, Canadian Club!) and soft drinks, along with a spread of artisan cheese, the gathering at the Alt & Shawmut Chapel felt more like a night out with friends than a funeral visitation.

“This is amazing because this is so Dar; she would love this,” said a longtime friend of the Babcocks. “We didn’t know you could do something like this for a funeral. Usually we go to a quiet visitation and then do all of this—the eating, the drinking, the laughing and the telling stories—somewhere else. Here it’s all in one place.”

For three hours, the chapel was packed (there was literally a line to get in) with hundreds of people who knew Dar best from childhood, the Babcock’s family businesses (Insulation Environmental Services and DRB Enterprises), the Elks Lodge, camping and the list goes on. The group twice toasted to Dar and played her favorite drinking song, “Red River Valley,” while looking at photos and sharing memories of the woman they described as “outgoing,” “one of a kind,” “protector,” “authentic” and “joyful.”

“We spent almost four hours together talking about Dar, her life and what she loved,” Life Story Funeral Matt Hollebeek said about his planning meeting with the Babcock family. “We make it a priority to stop and take the time to listen to the family and decide what would be the best fit for their loved one.”


After hearing about Dar’s life, Matt suggested to the Babcocks that they serve Dar’s favorite drink at the visitation and make the night more of a celebration, just like Dar would have enjoyed.

“Why wouldn’t we do this,” said Matt, adding how fulfilling it is to see the shift in family members who walk into a planning meeting quiet and teary-eyed and then leave smiling and hope-filled for the events ahead.

“Most people don’t know that you can do these kinds of things at a funeral home. Once we tell families the sky is the limit—’Yes, you can have an open bar!’ ‘Yes, you can serve food!’ ‘Yes, you can play any kind of music or hire a live band for that matter!’—everything changes.”

You can read more about Dar's life and share a memory of your own on her personal memory page.