MARILYN LEA WALDER (née COHEN) September 27, 1935 - March 23, 2018 Marilyn grew up in a traditional Jewish home in north end Winnipeg, but her life became anything but traditional. In the 1950s, she left Winnipeg as a teenager to attend McGill University in Montreal and then lived and worked as a young and adventurous woman in New York City. Not your traditional life in those years. But she did follow the tradition of those times by not completing her university education and choosing to marry our dashing and very European father, Larry, in 1958, when she was 22 and then promptly had three babies in three and a half years. As the 1960s came to an end, so did any attempt by our mother to stick to the traditional path. She embraced feminism at a time when it was a dirty word. It opened her eyes to a life where she could be something in addition to a wife and mother. She went back to university and graduated from U of W with a Bachelor's Degree with a double major in Economics and Urban Studies. From that time on and until many years past the traditional retirement age of 65, our mom became the independent woman she had always wanted to be, working first with the provincial government in the Department of Urban Affairs and later as a Chair with the Manitoba Municipal Board. As she fulfilled her own need to live an intellectually and professionally challenging life, she became a better mother and an incredibly strong role model for those around her. Our mother was a woman of diverse interests, some of which veered away from tradition. She was a rabid fan of numerous sports and had a special place in her heart for the Blue Bombers and later the Jets. Our mom didn't just enjoy reading; she read three books at a time and found enjoyment in only the most challenging crossword puzzles. Our mother didn't just like playing bridge; she only liked to play in a fiercely competitive way, including winning major tournaments. She competed hard at everything she ever tried in her life and her fight to be accepted for who she was defined her until her last breath. Our mom, who struggled with being a traditional mother, had no such trouble embodying some very traditional aspects of being a Jewish grandmother. She had six grandchildren she adored, and their pictures are everywhere in her apartment. The last decade and a half of her life was challenging in every way. She lost her only son, Robert, to cancer in 2004 when he was 44 years old and had a one-year-old son. Our mom started the biggest battle of her life five and a half years ago when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Small Cell Carcinoma. She was given six months to a year to live if she agreed to undergo chemotherapy and radiation. Her sheer stubbornness and fighting spirit kept her alive. As this terrible disease progressed, every milestone, every birthday, every Jewish holiday dinner was experienced with even more zest and intensity because we never knew if it would be her last. Our mom died on her terms. She died in her own home, allowing us and her devoted brother Howard to look after her with as little outside help as possible so she could maintain her privacy and her dignity. Mourning Marilyn's death are her daughters, Sheree Walder Morantz (Richard Morantz) and Lori Walder (Keith James); grandchildren, Ethan, Sean and Emily Morantz, Elijah and Sam White, Benjamin Walder and mother Tammie Vautour; brother Howard Cohen (Ron Soskolne), nephews, Joshua (Maya) and Matthew (Allison) Cohen and families; sister-in-law Marsha Cohen and a wide circle of friends and family. Marilyn was predeceased by her parents, Sidney and Edythe Cohen and her beloved son, Robert. Special thanks to Dr. James Paul and the staff at CancerCare Manitoba and the dedicated palliative care team, including Dr. Martin, lead nurse Lisa and home care workers, Sofia and Margaret. Funeral services were held on March 24 at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue with interment at Shaarey Zedek Cemetery, officiated by Rabbi Green. Pallbearers were five of her six grandchildren and her two nephews. Those who wish to honour Marilyn's memory are invited to donate in her name to CancerCare Manitoba.

As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Mar 31, 2018


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