The CRUDEM Foundation/Hôpital Sacré Coeur Community Remembers Fifi

After a long illness, Dielua “Fifi,” Gilles, HSC’s Chef for over 15 years, died Saturday afternoon, January 11 at the hospital. She was surrounded by family and friends.

Born in Milot on July 9, 1964, Fifi is the daughter of the late Probus Gilles and Joasile Junie. Fifi leaves her husband, Amos Clerve and her three daughters Soeurette Gilles, 28; Guerldie Jean Baptiste, 24; Shenighdy Clerve, 15, and one grandchild.

Her funeral will be Sunday, January 19, at 2 p.m. at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Ebenezer de Milotin in Milot.

As news of her sad passing spread throughout the hospital and the community, her family, friends and colleagues remembered her caring presence.

Fifi’s husband, a retired police officer, calls her a “courageous woman” who loved her job and the people she served. She always arrived early to work and left late and always did an exemplary job. “She never once in all the years of her employment received a negative letter (complaint),” proudly notes a family member.

As a little girl Fifi grew up in Trois Ravine (which is still considered Milot). From very early on, as the only daughter, Fifi loved to cook and spend time with her mother in their little outdoor kitchen. She often showed her appreciation for a cadu (gift) by baking you a sweet cake.

As a youngster, she was also known for her hijinks. With four brothers to compete with, Fifi had to withstand their teasing, but she learned how to affect a payback through her cooking talent. If you teased too much, the sauce would be especially spicy that night and the offender would be humbled the next morning, her family joked.

Throughout her life, Fifi had a playful side and loved a good joke.

Fifi also became a sought after seamstress in her local area. She could make elaborate fashions for the women from sketches she would draw. Her favorite past times were singing, acting in local theatre and doing art sketches.
Without a doubt, family was everything to Fifi. Although she would work long hours, she kept a tight rein on her daughters. Their education was paramount in her view. Fifi will be long and lovingly remembered and sorely missed.



Testimonials and Memories of Fifi:

What a loss. Fifi’s meals were so great. And her personality just simply glowed. She will be missed by both those who knew her and those who have not yet had the chance to know her. Surely she is at peace with her maker.
–Dennis Tuchalski

RIP Miss Fifi! Thank you for your smile, your wonderful dedication, and of course, your wonderful cooking!
–Cathy Dougherty

My heart is heavy with sadness. My she rest in peace and love.
–Jill Winters

May she RIP️ –April R English

RIP Fifi! Thanks so much for always taking good care of us. My sympathies to her family!
–Marty Henley

I remembered her. RIP Fifi.–Doris Doleyres

I am so very sad to learn about Fifi’s passing. I had heard so many wonderful things about Fifi and her delicious recipes before I came to Milot in 2012, so when I finally met her, I felt that I had already known her. I had the opportunity to interview her for a video for CRUDEM’s social media networks, and her positive attitude and humor won me over as she spoke with great enthusiasm for her work and the hospital. The evening after my interview with Fifi, she surprised me by making me my favorite dinner – spaghetti – even though she had previously told me spaghetti is traditionally a breakfast food in Haiti. Fifi remains one of my favorite people that I met in Milot, and I know her legacy will live on through the memories of the people who knew her, and in the recipes she shared.
–Amanda MacFarland

So sad. Phil and I remember her fondly everytime we cook for more than 4 people and wonder how she cooked for 100 people 3times a day with that beautiful smile on her face!! RIP Fifi. X x x
–Emma Matthews

I am so sorry for CRUDEM and her family My prayers –Louise Stott

Everyone knew her as just FiFi. She greeted everyone with her big smile, big eyes and her even bigger heart. She followed in her mother, Francois’, footsteps. The great Haitian/ French cuisine which has been served at CRUDEM for over 26 years, was first brought to the area from the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in Canada. Francois learned well the special recipes and passed them onto FiFi before she retired after many years of service.

FiFi proved to have her own style. We all noticed an extra “kick” to the recipes – FiFi had a ‘heavy hand’ on the spices :) Everyone seemed to like her special added flare to the familiar dishes – now creating her own signature plates. She took pride in all her meal preparations. In fact, FiFi had no problem with special requests–she was happy to make vegetarian and other special dishes, and would make sure with the person it was made to their satisfaction. She was always so thoughtful. FiFi began teaching Caroline, next in line to take over the kitchen, her cooking secrets. How we appreciated the care and attention to detail our CRUDEM “Mama” took for all of us volunteers.

We all were so happy for FiFi when she told us just a few years ago she was getting married. She was so very happy, and if anyone deserved this happiness, it was FiFi. She had not had an easy life in Haiti.

The marriage was short-lived as FiFi was diagnosed with late stage cancer. She put up a good fight but lost the battle last Saturday, January 11, 2014 at Hôpital Sacré Coeur in Milot, Haiti.

It was a great blessing for me to be at the hospital and be able to see her just hours before she departed this earth. Ironically, I had planned to visit her that Sunday, but she got admitted to the hospital late Friday evening. So, on Saturday morning, with her husband by her side, I approached her bedside. She surprised me when she looked up, recognized me and spoke my name in her usual way, “Debooorraah!” I could only kiss her, give her a crucifix I had and tell her I was praying for her. She closed her eyes and returned to her labored breathing. I inquired about her pain and she had just received some pain medication. Before leaving the ward, I asked Nathalie, the Director of Nursing, to please get an order to increase the amount of her pain med to keep her comfortable until the end. She did. Trying to help her have a comfortable, dignified death was the least I could do for FiFi after all she had done for all of us. May you rest in peace, FiFi. We will love you and remember you forever.
–Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, RN

I will never forget her smile and her kindness. And her French toast!! We will miss you FiFi!!
–Dana K

Mes cordoleances à la grande famille de CRUDEM. Fifi que ton âme repose en paix. (My condolences to the large family of CRUDEM. Fifi your soul rest in peace.)
–Marie Ignace Gauthier Morel

I am sure I am one of many volunteers who remember her fondly. RIP Fifi. –Kristine Rovell

RIP Fifi! God bless her soul! There’s a Special Place in heaven for her so she can continue making her delicious Haitian cuisine!
–Art Encarnacion

So sorry RIP Fifi –Suzie Joachim

Here now and saw her before she passed. She was suffering and now at peace. Missing her smile her energy and her cooking more than ever! Brought her usual load of chocolate she so loved but didn’t get a chance to give it to her. Will miss her greatly and privileged to know her. She was responsible for me always gaining weight in a 3rd world country!
–Daniel Burzon MD

She was such a nice lady, RIP Fifi you will be missed dearly! –Marcha Polection

Oh no! I’m shocked! I have such wonderful memories of Fifi, she was a beautiful lady. The kitchen will not be the same without her.
–Christine Kloosterman

God Bless her and her family…she’ll be greatly missed, but not forgotten! –Angie Thieme

May she RIP️ –April R English

So sorry for your loss! –Rochelle Born

I have missed your sweet smile and delicious meals. We could taste the love. God rest your soul.
–Kathleen Kestner Haywood

RIP Fifi. –Nicole Boyle

R.I.P Dieula Gilles. –Jean Mombrun

God rest her soul, she was a good and patient cook; and I will always remember her delicious meals.
–Deb Robinson

Sorry for your loss! –Rochelle Born

Made me sad to hear Fifi always took such great care of us with her amazing meals while we were in Milot. Such a wonderful person who always had a smile on her face. She will be missed!
–Vicky Steele

So sorry to hear about FiFi. She worked hard and always kept us well fed. RIP.
–Sally Reinholdt

Very sorry to hear this. She was such a wonderful, nice person, and always had good, nourishing food for us. Loved the stewed(?) goat.
–Ann Reising Foehrweiser

For sure we will deeply miss her. –Jean Mombrun

That’s so sad. My prayers are with her family! –Eddie Josee Charles

Oh no, she was so young. A kind woman. –Lori Bauer

My condolences to her friends and family. She was always so kind, helpful, and a joy to be around.
–Dr Surface

Fifi always seemed to be in a pleasant mood and was very helpful. Following the earthquake her job became over whelming and yet there were no complaints, just concern. David and Jim MacKirdy (Kat’s dad) made a shelf near the kitchen for used dishes to be stacked by the diners to keep the clutter out of the small cooking space. Fifi was thrilled! She took pride in her work and was pleased at our reactions of awe when she presented a new dish, or a particularly yummy dessert. She will be missed.
–Love from Pat and David Balanky

So very sorry to hear this…I was one of the many volunteers that Fifi provided nutrition for following the earth quake…she worked long days with a beautiful smile, never complained and great food. She will be missed. Sending prayers.
–Karen Dalton

Great person and chef!! So sad! –Julie Weeks

My deepest condolences… –Fernando Vega

Just returned from HSC and it was incredible to see the ENTIRE campus mourning an icon, Fifi. It was not just the volunteers who she fattened up with her great cooking and infectious smile but the whole hospital and the town. black flags were posted and black ribbons worn. it was a nice tribute.
–Daniel Burzon

This lovely woman fed all of us volunteers after the earthquake..very long days,never complained…she will be missed.
–Karen Dalton

So sad for her family, may she rest in peace, I pray for her soul and her family and friends.
–Ria Natuur

I never met Fifi. Reading about Fifi is very inspiring. I will make it a must to visit Hopital Sacre Coeur on my next trip to Haiti. Fifi left a tremendous legacy. In her memory every recipe of hers that has been posted I have tried to make them . Thank you for sharing Fifi with us who never had the opportunity to have met this caring loving human being.
–Mireille Leroy

Omg…can’t believe it!…she was an awesome person and excellent cook…..I looked so forward to seeing her every time I went…RIP…
–Kathia Desronvil

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