Mary Helen was born in Colombia to Canadian parents who were working for a USA oil company. She came to Canada in August 1938 initially, to her family’s home in Oakville, Ontario. Later she lived in Quebec, Alberta, Northwest Territories and finally BC.
She and her sister, Janet, graduated from the Toronto General Hospital School of Nursing in 1956 from where their mother graduated in 1926. After graduation she worked in Toronto, ON; Edmonton, AB; and Kitimat, BC.
It was in Kitimat where she met and married, in 1957, William (Bill) R. Hatch of Britannia Beach, BC. They had two daughters. While helping to raise their children, Mary Helen went back to volunteer work. First volunteer work was at age 7 when she knitted scarfs, sweaters and socks for the Canadian Red Cross during WW II. When their daughters were in school, Mary Helen went back to school and completed the first two years of a Bachelor of Arts Degree from UBC via the local community college.
Mary Helen was also an activist. According to her mother, she was ‘not backwards about coming forward’. She let those in positions of power in municipal, provincial and federal governments, as well as corporations, know what she thought of their actions and/or inactions whether in spoken or written word. She could be frequently heard saying ‘I may not be as smart as I could or should be YET, but I am sure as hell not as DUMB as you want me to be!’.
She read non-fiction mainly: history, economics, current events, etc., all from her public library as well as publications of groups she financially supported – Ecojustice Canada, Council of Canadians and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, to name a few.
Mary Helen was predeceased by her parents, her husband, Bill, in 1982 and her sister, Janet, in 2005. She is survived by her daughters: Sandra (Jerry) Lemmon of Canmore, AB and Sheila Vander-Hoek of Victoria, BC; her grandchildren Jason Hawkins of Abbotsford, BC and Kirstie Vander-Hoek of North Vancouver, BC; her sister’s family who are all in Australia; cousins and friends here and across Canada.
Special thanks to the medical staff (doctors and nurses) on Baker 2 at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre, for their caring support to Mary Helen and her family.
Mary Helen’s body has been donated to Somatic Explorations to further the anatomical studies of regulated health care professionals, to aid in improving their skills, knowledge, and practices.
No service. Cremation and burial at a later date to be announced.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to British Columbia Lung Association.