It is with profound sadness we announce the peaceful passing of Mary J. LeMessurier at the age of 88 on Sunday, March 11, 2018 at Lewis Estates Retirement Residence in Edmonton, Alberta.
Mary was born in Montreal on June 12, 1929 to the late Kenneth and Jean Murray, along with her twin sister Joan Parke (Russel), and older brother Vernon Murray (both deceased).
As a young girl, Mary had an insatiable appetite for the outdoors, swimming and skiing, and spoke fondly of her summers as camp counselor at Camp Kanawana, QC. She attended the Netherwood School for Girls, N.B., Class of 1948, and pursued her interest in athletics at McGill University in Phys. Ed. Mary later trained as a Registered Technician of Hematology, receiving her diploma from the Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal.
While at McGill University, Mary Murray was introduced to Ernest LeMessurier. They were married in 1953, and following his burgeoning career in the print industry, they moved from Montreal to Halifax, N.S. in 1958. It was in Halifax where Mary developed her inexhaustible passion for public service. While working on the campaign for Federal Conservative MP Robert Stanfield, Mary was convinced her skills and energy would be well utilized in the service of others. She went on to chair numerous organizations including Miles for Millions, Save the Children Fund (Canada), Goodwill Industries Capital Campaign, and the Edmonton Opera. In 1971, Mary and Ernie permanently relocated to Edmonton.
Mary continued her public service in Edmonton working with Federal MP Marcel Lambert in his Edmonton constituency office. It wasn’t long before Mary was called on to run for a seat in the Alberta Legislature representing the good people of Edmonton Centre. She was successful in her first run for public office and was invited to serve as Minister of Culture, becoming one of the first women to serve in the Alberta Cabinet. Among Mary’s proudest achievements as Minister, were her efforts in increasing funding for libraries across the province, and the construction and completion of one of the most important arts projects in the province, the Calgary Centre for Performing Arts (now Arts Commons) with major funding provided through the grant programs of Alberta Culture.
In 1986 Mary was appointed Agent General representing Alberta in the United Kingdom and Europe. While in London, separate from her governmental responsibilities, Mary worked with the Canadian Women’s Club in establishing the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund as a registered charitable trust. In recognition of her work, The Mary LeMessurier Award for the Study of History is given annually to a Canadian student studying history in the UK. Mary returned to Alberta after a seven-year term and continued to serve her community. Most recently, she was the honorary and founding board member and first president of the board of iHuman Youth Society and Honorary Director of Pro Coro Canada.
Mary LeMessurier was much loved throughout the province as evidenced by her many honorary designations, including being named Honorary Kanai Chief for her work with Canadian First Nations People–semicolon– Serving Sister, Order of St. John of Jerusalem in recognition of her work with Canadian Hospitals–semicolon– Dame, Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem in recognition of her work with Charitable Institutions. In 1998 Mary was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.
One of Mary’s great passions was golf. She served as Vice President and Board Member of the Glendale Golf & Country Club, but more importantly, this is where Mary spent much of her time golfing with her close friends. Those who knew Mary well, knew a competitive, sensitive and driven spirit. Her love of dogs, her generosity, her concern for the less fortunate and her ability to get things done will always be remembered.
Predeceased in 2012 by her husband, Ernest “Ernie” LeMessurier, Mary is survived by her four children, Willa Jamieson (Paul), Jil Lee (Terry), Tim LeMessurier (Tammy) and Andrew LeMessurier (Kathleen)–semicolon– and six grandchildren, Alexandra, Cameron, Peter, Ross, Joshua and Olivia.
A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 22, 2018 at Connelly-McKinley Funeral Home, 10011 – 114 Street NW, Edmonton.
If desired, in lieu of flowers, those wishing to do so may make a donation in Mary’s memory to the Edmonton Community Foundation for the Mary LeMessurier Fund for the Arts at:
www.ecfoundation.org or 9910 – 103 Street NW, Edmonton, AB, T5K 2V7.