PHYLLIS “MARION” BOYD
The Honourable Phyllis “Marion” Boyd died peacefully at home in Inverhuron, at the age of 76 years, supported by her loving husband Terry, dear friend Joseph Addley and family.
Predeceased by their beloved daughter Christina “Tina”, who died in 2017 after a brave struggle with MS.
Marion is fondly remembered by her siblings and their children: sister Sheila Bauer & her sons Gavin, Steve and Richard; sister Marg and her husband Grant Black & their daughters Carolyn, Stephanie, Hailey; brother Dave and his wife Lin & David’s daughter Valery and son Brian & all their families.
Also remembered by Terry’s family: sister-in-law Pat & her son Scott, his brother Ken and his wife Anne & their sons David, Kevin and Stephen & all their families; and by her large extended Addley/Conahan family led by Patricia “Pat” Schram and all Marion’s cousins and other relatives.
Also predeceased by her parents Bill and Dorothy Watt, and Terry’s parents Irving and Marian Boyd, her brother-in-law Clive Boyd, and his and Pat’s beloved daughter Heather, and Joseph’s “Pop” Ray Schram.
Marion was born in Toronto, March 26, 1946. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English and History from Glendon College in 1968.
Marion began her calling as an organizer for change in grade school, when she rallied her classmates in support of a safe crosswalk across a busy street and into the school grounds. There was no looking back! She went on to be a feminist advocate for progressive social change.
From 1968 to 1973, she worked at York University as an assistant to the president and helped the university faculty win their first union contract. In 1981, after Marion, Terry and Tina moved to London, she worked as the executive director of the London Battered Women’s Advocacy Clinic, as a representative to the London Co-ordinating Committee to End Woman Abuse, and as a board member at the London Cross-Cultural Learner Centre, which advocates for newcomers and refugees.
In 1985, Marion, Terry, Tina and Joseph chose to be family and bought a house together in Old South London where they so much enjoyed the vibrancy of life in Wortley Village with its shops, pubs and public library.
The lives of all the family changed overnight when Marion was elected as a NDP member of the legislative assembly at Queen’s Park. She was appointed to cabinet as Minister of Education, then Minister of Community and Social Services. Concurrently, she was also the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues. She was then appointed Attorney General, the first woman to hold that position in Ontario.
In 1993, Marion introduced Bill 167 that would have provided same-sex couples with rights and obligations mostly equal to those of common law couples. The Bill failed on a free vote, but Marion’s attempts were vindicated five years later when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of those rights. Other difficult decisions as Attorney General were not without controversy, but Marion stayed true to her values and convictions.
After her time as an MPP, she remained engaged in public service. In 2000, she was appointed as chair of the Task Force on the Health Effects of Woman Abuse and authored its final report. In 2003, on the request of the Premier, she took on the controversial issue of Sharia Law being applied in settling family disputes. Her overall conclusions were not adopted, but many of her recommendations were included in revised legislation.
Marion remained engaged in public service as a bencher at the Law Society of Upper Canada and as an adjudicator with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. In 2011, the Society awarded Marion a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. York University did the same in 2017 at Convocation on the lovely campus of Glendon College, where Marion and Terry met as first year students. It was the ideal setting for a celebration of Marion’s many accomplishments.
Marion retired to her family’s lake house in Inverhuron where she enjoyed reading mysteries, gardening, hosting large deck parties and enjoying the camaraderie of family and friends. Celebrations of several dozen guests were not uncommon.
As she had in London, at Siloam United Church, Marion remained very active with the Kincardine United Church as well as regionally and provincially, often gifting her mediation skills to congregations struggling with difficult choices. She chuckled when she was told recently that some of her admirers had nicknamed her the Bishop of the Bruce. Her faith was always the bedrock of her commitment to bettering the lives of those most in need of care and support. She undertook studies and became a Licensed Lay Worship Leader and then spent many hours planning services and writing sermons, very often with a focus on postcolonialism and the trauma inflicted on indigenous communities. Her commitment to truth and reconciliation was steadfast.
Terry and Joseph are grateful to their family doctor Helena Robinson in London for her timely intervention on Marion’s behalf ; to Joseph’s nieces Peg (who advocated for Marion when she was in hospital in London) and Kim (who with her skills as a VON volunteer came to the rescue, to help care for Marion at home); to Marion’s palliative care team, led by our friend Dr. Susan Batten, the Home & Community Support Team and Care Partners, nurses Leigh Rae and Maddie, our PSW Sarah, and the staff at Gordon Pharmasave. Thanks also to her ministers Gord Dunbar and Judy Zarubick for her supportive visits to our home, and to all Marion’s dear friends in the United Church whose prayers and notes with good wishes sustained her to the end.
The prayer that Tina wrote for her own Celebration of Life is so perfectly penned for her Mom’s as well: “God of wisdom and compassion, who has given us another day to use our gifts and talents for the sake of others, inspire us with renewed commitment and energy. Help us to use our gifts and talents to help our fellow humans and to return those gifts to the Lord.”
Marion’s life of service is a gift to be treasured.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Davey-Linklater Funeral Home in Kincardine (www.daverlinklaterfuneralhome.com).
At Marion’s wish, cremation has already taken place. Interment at a later date.
The family will receive visitors from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at the Davey-Linklater Funeral Home, 757 Princes Street, Kincardine.
A memorial service to celebrate Marion’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022 at the Kincardine United Church (721 Princes Street, Kincardine), with Pastor Judy Zarubick officiating. Refreshments will be served in the church hall following the service.
As per Marion’s wish, the family would appreciate donations in her honour to Médecins sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders.