In mid-April, Mom learned that her remaining time
was likely measured in weeks, not months.
She met this news head-on: with acceptance, humour,
and just a tinge of impatience to be getting on with it.
She celebrated her 95th birthday on May 29.
On June 10, Mom died as she wished:
at home, with family around her.
– Isabel Gibson
Born near Standard on 29 May 1922 to Nels William Thompson (Niels Wilhelm Thomsen) and Belle Thompson (née Bamford), Marjorie grew up on the farm, picking up strong ties to her Danish heritage along with a smattering of Danish, an abiding interest in farming, and a deep love of the prairies.
After graduating from Crescent Heights High School in Calgary, she studied Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Alberta, avoided classes in mathematics and French to the extent possible, and worked summers on the farm. Graduating with a BA and a Gold Medal in May 1943, she worked as a social worker at the Provincial Guidance Clinic, a mental health clinic, until her marriage in May 1945 to Sheldon Gibson, another U of A graduate.
She and Sheldon moved frequently in the next seven years, as Sheldon’s work with Imperial Oil took them to small towns across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. In 1952 they moved into a new home in Edmonton and joined Metropolitan United’s Young Couples Club, a group that became the wacky Coffee Crowd, lifelong committed friends.
Marjorie managed the household and began what would be an enduring commitment to adult education in Biblical scholarship, and to volunteer community service. She founded Operation Friendship, an outreach program to seniors in Edmonton’s Boyle Street area, as well as a host-family program for international students at SAIT, after they moved to Calgary.
When Sheldon retired, he and Marjorie kept busy:
- Travelling extensively, much of it in search of genealogical information about both their families as well as various Elder Hostel adventures
- Participating in Canadian Club
- Volunteering as drivers for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics
- Attending CPO concerts, study groups at St. David’s United, and Esso Annuitant hikes and wine appreciation evenings
- Enjoying their grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and wide circle of fabulous friends
Inheriting the family farm in 1975, she was an active member of a successful and satisfying farming partnership with old friends until 2008, when she sold the farm to her partners.
Sheldon died in December 2010; Marjorie moved to Vancouver in January 2012 to be close to family and to enjoy the flowers and the showers. In her 90s, she started this blog and joined the Creative Writing Class at her seniors’ residence, making new friends and gaining much enjoyment from both. She also found a new church home at Canadian Memorial United Church.
Who Was Marjorie?
At home, church, and community organizations, people found in Marjorie a willing, empathetic, and yet sensible listener. She enjoyed all kinds of people and was on friendly, first-name terms with almost everyone with whom she came into contact.
Her teaching success came from her talents for organizing and presenting material and for infecting others with her enthusiasm.
Her lifelong tendency to spoonerisms complemented a tendency to misquote poetry.
She couldn’t keep a telephone number in her head to save her life, but she made public speaking look easy.
When she took up serious amateur photography in her fifties, she exhibited an artistic eye and a complete inability to dispose of any photograph, ever.
Spelling was not her forte, but she loved writing and self-published a thoroughly researched 400-page book about her grandmother’s family and descendants: “Grandma Was a Davis.”
Her sense of family was not restricted to blood relationships: children of international students she and Sheldon befriended considered them to be their Canadian grandparents.
She loved classical music, books of all kinds, Bridge, Lake O’Hara, peaty Scotch, red wines with a good finish, and the first crocuses to appear in the spring.