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Nanaimo loses a big fan

Muriel MacKay Ross had a love affair with Nanaimo for more than 90 years.

Born in Nanaimo April 17, 1922, MacKay Ross died Friday, leaving behind a legacy of volunteerism and community involvement.

From the Canadian Cancer Society and Order of the Eastern Star, to the Nanaimo Empire Days Celebration Society and St. Paul’s Anglican Church, MacKay Ross worked hard for the community, building strong friendships along the way.

“She was the most wonderful friend anyone could have. She couldn’t do enough for you,” said Audrey Thomas, a friend of MacKay Ross since the 1940s. “Anything you needed she had it. And if she didn’t have it, she’d find someone who could help you.”

A strong supporter of the city’s arts and heritage, MacKay Ross constantly put Nanaimo and its citizen’s needs above her own.

“She did a lot for the coalminers in her younger days, baked 42 dozen cupcakes for one Canada Day celebration and any worthy cause she would spearhead,” said Thomas.

Ron Hopper, a longtime friend and fellow member of the Empire Days society, said MacKay Ross was a real stalwart Nanaimo supporter.

“She was not the kind of person to say ‘that’s a good idea, someone should do something about it’,” he said. “She would say ‘that’s a good idea, I’ll take it on and the rest of you can help me’.”

Hopper said MacKay Ross’s love of Nanaimo was evident in all the awards she received from the city including Woman of the Year, Citizen of the Year and Freeman of the City.

“Anything that had to do with heritage in Nanaimo, she was involved with,” he said.

Brian Evans, rector of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, called MacKay Ross a matriarch in the parish who fulfilled many leadership roles over the years.

“When you think of the parish being 150 years old and she was 90, she carried the history of the church through two generations before her,” he said.

Evans said many church members benefitted from her spiritual sense and the love of Nanaimo.

“And she did love Nanaimo. Likely one of the things she was most proud of was she was a coalminer’s daughter,” he said

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