COLL, Mary Elizabeth 'Betty' - After a courageous battle with Alzheimer’s on Tuesday February 6, 2018 at Wellington Terrace, Fergus, Ontario in her 88th year.
Beloved wife of Gordon, who pre-deceased her in February 2016 after 63 years of marriage.
Mother of Andrew (Erika) and Alexander (RoseMarie), grandmother to Hayden and Adam, Megan, Trevor and Liam.
Sister to Ian Murray ( Baie Verte, NB) and Donald Murray (Midland, ON). Pre-deceased by her sister Jean Robinson (Charlottetown, PEI).
Born in Tunapuna, Trinidad in January 1930, Betty was the second child of United Church of Canada missionaries George and Sadie Murray. After spending most of her childhood in Trinidad at the tender age of 12 Betty moved on her own to Canada in 1942 where she attended Oshawa All-Girls School. It was there her formal interest in music began. In 1944 she moved to Sackville NB to attend the Mount Allison Girls School and then gained admission into Mount Allison University. At Mount Allison she worked towards her Licentiate of Music, participating in many singing competitions and musical theatre, as well as competing on the varsity women’s basketball team.
It was also at Mount A that she met her beloved Gordon. Both shared a keen interest in music and theatre, a passion that would extend throughout their adult lives. Married in June 1953 in Westfield NB, the Colls eventually settled in Toronto. Here Betty’s musical ambitions expanded. She continued her studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music and began to give regular solo performances at churches and concert halls throughout the city where her beautiful contralto voice garnered rave reviews in the local media.
After stepping away from her music career to raise her two boys, a period which included a two year stay in Germany where Gord was teaching at a Canadian Forces Base, in the early 70’s Betty began her second career as an Elementary School teacher with the Peel Board of Education. She taught grades 3 to 6 and (naturally) took charge of the music program in any school she was at. Through the 80’s and 90’s Betty and Gord dug into their second great passion - travel. Highlights included visits to China, Japan and Australia, safaris in Kenya, a trek across Russia on the Trans-Siberian railway and a countless string of cruises some that circled entire continents. Retirement brought on expanded travel abroad, as well as extended winter stays in their cherished Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Betty was a true Renaissance woman. Beyond her musical talents she was a magnificent cook, an avid tennis player, linguist, seamstress, birdwatcher and amateur painter. A stylish dresser her bright and colorful fashion sense employed every imaginable element of the Pantone color chart. An energetic volunteer in later years she was both a supporter and patron of the Elora Music Festival, frequent Cancer Society volunteer driver and organizer of a plethora of musical events inside and outside their Pine Meadows community in Belwood, Ontario.
Even though the ravages of Alzheimers over the last eight years of life robbed her of her memory and intellect, her indomitable spirit, positive attitude and gentle soul always shone through.
We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the staff of Wellington Terrace in Fergus, and especially those in Walnut Grove neighborhood, for their love and support of Betty in her final years. Truly wonderful people!
A private family celebration of Betty’s life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate donations to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario.