Margaret Eleanor Richardson Ward died peacefully on Friday, July 8 at Villa du Repos with family members close at hand. She was 94.
Marg, as friends called her, was born on January 29, 1922 in Atholville, N.B, the youngest of seven children, all of whom predeceased her: Frank, Patrick, Ally, Benedict (Bud), Isobel and Marion (Doll). After graduating from high school, she was to begin training as a registered nurse that September.
To her lasting regret, Marg had to give up her dream of becoming a nurse after her mother died unexpectedly. The day classes began, she dropped out to work as a housekeeper for her father. In 1940, Marg married Sterling Ward, a former CN conductor who died in 1977. The family moved from Campbellton to her “little pink house” in west–end Moncton in 1959, where she devoted herself to raising her four children.
Marg found a refuge in Mount Royal United Church, which her family joined when the newly formed congregation was holding its first services at Bessborough School in the early 1960s. She became a driving force within the United Church Women, a volunteer group whose bake sales, teas and suppers raised thousands over the years to pay for maintenance and other church–related expenses. Regulars at the church’s fund–raising meals would look for Marg’s justly famous dinner rolls, which sold by the dozens. Marg’s three sons learned never to help themselves to her freshly baked bread, pies and cookies without first asking, “Are these for church or your own starving children?”
Through UCW, Marg made several cherished friends including the late Martha Mosher. She was also devoted to her craft group, which met on Tuesday mornings for several years. They did crafts, had coffee and got caught up on everything that was going on in the church and the community. Marg considered herself blessed to have these crafter friends in her life, including Betty Henderson, Helen MacArthur and Barb DeWitt, all of whom have passed away. They made her laugh and they made her come alive.
Marg also taught Sunday school at the church for many years and served as volunteer counsellor at Camp Ta–wa–si along Northumberland Strait near Port Elgin. She delighted in the camp, which gave her time for reflection and repose when not shepherding campers through their games and activities.
A deep–rooted Leafs fan, Marg never missed Hockey Night in Canada on Saturdays. She much preferred the National Hockey League in the days when it consisted of six teams. She became a basketball fan as well, thanks to her granddaughter Courtney Donovan, who played for the Harrison Trimble High School girls’ team. Win or lose, Marg’s chocolate chip cookies were a delicious post–game ritual for the team. Her love of baking was passed on to her granddaughter Amanda Smith, who learned at Nana’s knee and is now a notable cook herself.
Her children, grandchildren and great–grandchildren all wore baby clothes made by Marg, an expert knitter. A basket of knitting was always close at hand, wherever she happened to be.
Marg’s kitchen would resound with laughter whenever her two sisters visited — Aunt Doll and Aunt Isobel, to the Ward kids. “Well, lookit here,” Marg would begin, and the three of them would “laugh like fools” as another story unfolded.
Marg, a longtime member of Eastern Star, would claim that she was not a good Christian but in fact her humility, kindness, and generosity illuminated the tenets of the church.
She is survived by her four children: George (Sandi) and Sandi’s children Tim Burden (Julie) and Shannon Petracco (Dave) of Brampton, Ontario; Robert (Janet) of White Rock, B.C., and granddaughter Amanda (Jeff) and their children Madeleine, Katie and Sam of Vancouver; Bruce (Gaye) of Ottawa; and Jane Donovan (Larry) and their daughter Courtney of Moncton.
The family is grateful to Shirley Clement, Marg’s beloved niece, and Gordie McCully, a much loved family friend, for their constant support while Marg was a patient at Moncton Hospital. Their visits never failed to raise Marg’s spirits, as did the unwavering devotion of Jane, whom Marg often described “as the best daughter a mother could have.” The family also wishes to thank staff at Villa du Repos for their kindness in caring for Marg during her final weeks. Thanks also to nursing staff at Moncton City Hospital’s unit 5100 for their caring professionalism while Marg was a patient there for over a year.
A funeral service washeld Mount Royal United Church on Tuesday, July 19 at 10:45 a.m. Those wishing to honour Marg’s memory may make a donation to the church.