Margaret “Mary” Lyons (nee Ham)

June 20, 1931 – February 23, 2019
Mary passed away on the evening of February 23 at the McKenney Creek Hospice in Maple Ridge. She had been ill for eight months with the effects of a brain tumor. Mary was born in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England, on June 20, 1931, but spent her youth in Cardiff, Wales, attending Howell’s School for Girls in Llandaff. In 1951, she received her secondary Teacher’s Certificate with a major in Biology from the University of London.

In 1956, after responding to an ad in the London Times requesting applicants for a teaching post in Manitoba, Mary immigrated to Winnipeg where she taught science at St. John’s Technical High School. In Winnipeg, she met her husband, Leonard, whom she married in 1958. Her first son, Howell, was born in 1960. In the same year, she received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Manitoba. In 1962, Mary, Len, and Howell moved to Germany where Len taught at the Canadian Forces Base school at Baden, Baden for two years.

Upon returning to Canada, the family moved to BC where Mary and Len taught in Arrowhead, Parksville, and Nanaimo, eventually settling in Campbell River in 1968. While living in Parksville, the couple welcomed their second son, Timothy, born in 1966. Mary and Len were lifelong learners, attending summer school at the University of Oregon from 1968-1977, culminating in Mary earning her Doctorate in Education. Mary moved into education administration, fulfilling various leadership roles on Vancouver Island and in the Kootenay Lake school district. Ultimately, she was appointed the first and only female Superintendent of New Westminster School District in 1981, retiring from that position in 1995.

In addition to her professional career, Mary was also active in the New Westminster Rotary Club from 1992-2011, serving as their first woman President from 1998-1999. She supported a wide range of Rotary initiatives, notably in youth services and programs, and the Rotary Foundation, the international charitable arm of the organization. The Rotary Club recognized Mary with a Paul Harris Fellow designation in 1999. Beyond service work, Mary was an avid reader who also enjoyed knitting and sewing. She was also a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and aunt.

Mary was pre-deceased by her father, Howell (1959), mother, Edith (1987), and son, Timothy (1986). She will be held in respectful memory by her brother, Thomas (Wales), husband, Leonard, son, Howell, daughter-in-law, Shelley, grand-daughter, Bronwyn, and extended family in Canada and the UK.

The family is grateful to Maple Ridge Home Health palliative nurses, Maple Ridge Hospital nurses, Nurse Next Door care-givers, and McKenney Creek Hospice nurses, for all of their support and kindness during Mary’s illness.

In lieu of flowers, donations made in Mary’s memory to the BC Cancer Society, Ridge Meadows Hospice Society, or the New Westminster Foundation (c/o Rotary Club of New Westminster), will be greatly appreciated.


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