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‘She helped educate a community’
Marion Frances Sharpe was always a woman of strong will, even as a teenager. The story goes that the day after she turned 21, when she was legally allowed to get married without anyone’s permission, she left for Vancouver to wed her sweetheart of five years, Paul Sharpe.
Marion was a proud Protestant, and when Paul’s mother – a devout Catholic – met the pair on the wedding day and insisted that Marion convert so that the marriage could take place at a Catholic church, Marion stood firm.
“Mom didn’t, and she wouldn’t, and she never did change her religion,” recounts son Steve. “I think they got married, if I remember, in the office in the back of the Catholic church. That was as good as she was going to get.”
Marion Sharpe passed away Jan. 15, two days shy of her 98th birthday. Some of the people she affected over her near century of life came out to celebrate her during a service on Wednesday – exactly 77 years to the day after Marion and Paul married.
Born Jan. 17, 1916 in Burnaby in the middle of the First World War, the eldest of five children, Marion moved to Mission in 1920. She graduated from Mission Central school, as five of her six children did years later, and eventually became a librarian at Mission Library.
She was a woman who thrived on strong and lasting relationships with those around her.
Always an avid reader, as a child Marion even made connections with Mission families with large private libraries so that she could get what she wanted even if the local library didn’t have it.
Later, through her decades of library service at the Mission public library, Marion selected books for children, and watched them grow up to borrow books as adults.
“She helped educate a community,” said Steve.
Although she retired from the library in 1982, Marion continued to lead an active and involved life for another three decades.
“She was very proud of her community and her community involvement,” said Steve.
Marion was a charter member of the Historical Society, Friends of the Library, Lifetime Learning, Paths and Pathfinders, Hospice Society, Women’s Institute, Hospital Auxiliary, and the Old Age Pensioners.
She believed in civic duty and was a regular letter-writer to people in authority to tell them what’s what.
“If you were a politician in this community, whether you were civic, or provincial, or federal, you would’ve certainly heard from mom. Many times,” said Steve. “I long with my sisters and brothers to have that same passion, and we learned that from our mother.”
What mattered most to Marion were her friends and family. She leaves behind three sons and three daughters, 15 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren – and nearly a century of memories spread among those she knew in the community.