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Gwendolyn McDonald Black, BMus, LLD, OC

Gwendolyn McDonald Black, BMus, LLD, OC 1911-2005 SACKVILLE, NB - Gwendolyn McDonald Black, age 93 , of Sackville, N.B., passed away on Monday, February 28, 2005 at the Sackville Memorial Hospital, Sackville, N.B. Gwendolyn McDonald Black was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta on August 1, 1911, where her father Nathaniel McDonald was pastor at the Century Methodist Church. He died in 1917 when Gwen was only six years old. Her mother Statira Preble McDonald, from Wolfville, N.S., soon found employment at Lasell Junior College for Girls in Auburndale, Massachusetts. Gwen grew up there, in a girls school, becoming an American citizen in the process. She came back to Canada in 1929 for a oneyear BA at Mount Allison's Ladies College, but stayed on to 1933, completing the first Bachelor of Music to be awarded at the school since 1912. After some months in Europe and part time employment in New England, she was invited back to the Ladies College to teach music. At age 25, Gwendolyn married J.L. (Laurie) Black and settled down for the rest of her life in Middle Sackville. While Laurie was at Staff College in London during World War II, their eldest son Frank was killed in a train accident. This was 1943, and Laurie was not allowed to return home, so Gwen had to cope mostly on her own, showing the resilience and strength of character for which she became famous. Gwen was an accomplished musician and graduated from Mount Allison University with a degree in music in 1932. She found employment as a "music companion" in a small home for epileptics in New Hampshire. Later, in Sackville, she played the piano regularly for the Canadian Association for the Mentally Challenged in Sackville, and invited the children and their parents annually to her cottage in Murray Corner. A founding member of Westmorland Women in the 1970's, and National President of the Canadian Federation of University Women (1970-1973), Gwen contributed significantly to the improvement of life for women in her community and in Canada. Often she led by example. She was active as well on the boards of the VON, the Children's Aid Society, the Sackville Memorial Hospital and the New Brunswick Commission on Federal Constituencies. For these and other contributions to Canadian life, she was named to the Order of Canada in 1975, the first New Brunswick woman to be invested as an Officer. Gwen remained a life-long supporter of Mount Allison, above all, the Department of Music. Her generosity was recognized in 2003 when she was named a winner of the Charles Frederick Allison Award. Contributions to the Joseph L. Black Chair of Economics, pianos for the music department and a trophy for women badminton players were among the many other gifts Gwen provided the University. Her mind and time, which included many years as an active member of the university's Board of Regents and its Senate, and as a member of the Presidents Committee on the Status of Women, was equally valued by Mount Allison, which gave her an honorary doctorate (LLD) in 1970. With all her travels and her widespread national and international contacts, Gwen loved Middle Sackville, New Brunswick best of all. Though she had had a family, love and stability as a child, she had not had a "home" in the traditional sense of the word. This she found in Middle Sackville. Her "home" was built in 1937 by her husband on the foundations of the much older Joseph L. Black house. Her four children were either born in that house or brought up in it; it was her house, her home, her haven. She will be sadly missed by three children and their spouses, Larry (Janice) Black of Ottawa, Ontario, Janet Alexander of Halifax, N.S. and John (Donna) Black of Halifax, N.S.; grandchildren, Laurie, Joseph, Jennifer, Lucy. Laura, Stephanie and Andrew; and great grandchildren, Alexander, William, Jeremy and Catie. She was predeceased by her husband Laurie in 1992 and her son Frank in 1943. Arrangements are entrusted to Campbell's Funeral Home, 89 Bridge Street, Sackville, N.B. E4L 3P1, (3648188). Cremation has taken place and there will be no visitation by request of the family. The Funeral Service will be held on Friday, March 4, 2005 at 2 PM at the Sackville United Church, with Rev. Ruth Houtby officiating. Burial will take place in the spring in the Sackville Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Gwen may be made to the charity of ones choice.

 
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