A loving wife and mother, devoted community leader and a great lady passed away in Nanaimo on October 8, 2008 with family by her side. Predeceased by her husband, Edward (Ted) Strongitharm QC, and daughter Edith Margaret (Mardi), she is survived by her sons Doug (Lois), Bruce (Sheryl), Deane (Janet), grandchildren Colin (Andrea), Karen (Rob), Kelly, Jessie and great granddaughter Kaitlyn. Born in Nanaimo, Margaret grew up in Vancouver, earning a degree from UBC in Applied Science in Nursing. In 1948 she and her family returned to Nanaimo.
Margaret was a strong advocate of health, education, women’s equality, and art and cultural issues. Seeing the need to help families and the elderly, she helped establish the first day care centre and home support services in Nanaimo. A national director of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, she also served three years as Chair of the Central Vancouver Island Health Board. Margaret was president of her local Parent/Teacher Associations, served three terms as a Nanaimo school trustee (past Chair), and was a member of the Malaspina College Board. Margaret served as Chair of the B.C. Human Rights Commission (1978-1981). She was a former national president of the Canadian Federation of University Women, a member of the National Advisory Committee on Affirmative Action and the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Having a keen interest in civic affairs, Margaret served three terms as a Nanaimo City Councillor and six years as a Commissioner of Nanaimo’s Parks, Recreational and Cultural Commission. Perhaps Margaret’s greatest accomplishment was her vision for the establishment of an arts and culture centre in the City of Nanaimo. As a member of the Arts Council and founding member of the Nanaimo and District Harbourfront Centre Society, Margaret worked tirelessly to ensure the funding and development of the Port Theatre.
In recognition of her contributions to her community, Margaret was named Nanaimo’s Woman of the Year (1968), Arts Leader of the Year (1995), “Freeman of the City” (1996), and received an Honorary Doctorate of the Humanities from Malaspina University-College (1999). She was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada in recognition of her community volunteerism in 2000.
Mom, you have given your community your unselfish devotion and, in doing so, made us all very proud, setting an example for us all to follow. The family sends a special thank-you to the staff at Nanaimo Seniors Village for their care, attention and kindness to our mother.
A service to celebrate Margaret’s life will be held on Saturday, October 18, 2008 at 2:00 pm, St Paul’s Anglican Church, Nanaimo, B.C. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a donation be made to the Port Theatre for the Studio Theatre Project (125 Front St. Nanaimo, V9R 6Z4).