Mary Muriel “Darlie” (MacKenzie) Churchill passed away with family by her side at Trent Valley Lodge in Trenton, Ontario, May 6th in her 89th year. Born May 27th, 1925, in Middle River, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia she was the eldest child of John D. “Jack” and Georgina “Georgie” (MacRae) MacKenzie. Muriel grew up on her family’s highland farm on the Yankee Line. She and her siblings were educated in a one-room school that served Grades Primary to 12 and Muriel knew early on that nursing would be her career choice. In 1946, she graduated from the Glace Bay General Hospital School of Nursing and in her speech as valedictorian she quoted from Douglas Malloch’s poem “Be the Best of Whatever You Are” and that she was! Muriel’s life journey took her to Toronto where she continued to work in the health care profession she dearly loved, eventually marrying “a boy from back home”, Charles Malcolm Churchill. There they raised their family. They left city life behind in 1969 for rural living on a farm property they purchased east of Toronto in Morganston. Later they enjoyed town life in nearby Colborne. All the while Muriel was a dedicated and well-loved staff member at Cobourg General Hospital until her retirement in 1990. Spanning more than four decades, her health care career included positions at Toronto General Hospital, Sick Children’s Hospital, and as a Nursing Instructor in the then new Registered Nursing Assistant program. Muriel was a dedicated member of Colborne Inner Wheel and like her husband was honored with the Paul Harris Fellowship Award, Rotary International’s top individual award named after its founder. She was a Community Care Northumberland board member; volunteer at Colborne’s Vourneen Buff Jack Seniors Centre; a Meals on Wheels volunteer; and a gardener extraordinaire. She never forgot her Celtic roots – at the sound of a fiddle her toes were tapping. Flowing gracefully with the changes dementia brought to her life, she transitioned from living in her own home to assisted living and finally to extended care. Muriel was predeceased by her husband Charlie in 2005, her brother Charles JD “Buddy” (Charal) in 1989, and her great-granddaughter Lizzy in 2007. Muriel is survived by her daughter Sharon (Jim) Morrow, Middle River, N.S. and her son Charles (Elaine), Colborne, Ont.; grandchildren Jason, Colborne, Ont., Marcie (Mike) Castleton, Ont., Erin Daniel (Michelle) Toronto, Ont., and Megan (Donald) Baddeck, N.S.; brother Maynard (Julia) Middle River, N.S.; sister Minerva (Bonnyville, Alberta); great-grandchildren Gabby, Autumn, Harcla, Isabelle and Charlie; sister-in-law Charal MacKenzie (Baddeck, N.S.), brother-in-law, Lloyd Churchill (Baddeck, N.S.) and sister-in-law Ellen Robinson (Georgian Bay, Ontario) and many beloved nieces and nephews.
Memorials in Muriel’s memory may be made to Northumberland Hills Hospital Foundation in Cobourg or a charity of one’s choice. Online condolences may be made by visiting www.MacCoubrey.com. The family extends their deepest thanks to the staff at Trent Valley Lodge for their compassionate care as Muriel made her transition from this life.
A celebration of life service will take place at Colborne United Church at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13th, 2014. According to her wishes Muriel’s ashes will be interred at a later date beside those of her husband in Middle River Cemetery, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.