INFANTRY email@example.com_county.toronto.toronto_star 2002-12-18 published
Margie EVANS' spirit drew people to her
She fought for women's rights with unique style 'She operated on a level very few people grasped'
Ashante INFANTRY Staff Reporter
Margie EVANS was the stereotypical doctor's wife: delightful designer-clad hostess and crack fundraiser -- when she wasn't fighting for women's rights.
"She was so smart and perceptive but was treated like a dumb little thing, because she was so gorgeous and funny and a doctor's wife," said sculptor and feminist Maryon KANTAROFF.
"Meanwhile, she operated on a completely different level that very few people grasped, which is why she was so valuable to the movement."
The charismatic and stylish Marina Marguerite EVANS, 76, died December 5 of cancer.
She was born in Port Credit, the eldest daughter of a father who farmed and lectured at the University of Guelph and a mother who died when she was still a teenager.
The family attended St. Cyril and Methody Macedono-Bulgarian Orthodox Cathedral in Toronto and she encountered her husband at one of the church's picnics at the bottom of Don Mills Rd.
"I was standing talking to someone, gesturing with my arms open and she walked right into them and said, 'Thank you, I'd love to,' because everyone was dancing all around us," said Carl recalling that fortuitous meeting. After the couple wed, they lived on her family's farm, where Mrs. EVANS did her father's bookkeeping while her husband studied optometry.
After he established a successful practice in Scarborough, they moved into the Don Mills Rd. area and Mrs. EVANS stayed home with their three children.
When the optometry school was being moved from Toronto to the University of Waterloo she threw "a little party" at their home which raised $100,000 for the faculty.
"Her talent was collecting people; she threw the most wonderful parties and was fun to be with," said long-time friend Donald REID.
At age 40, Mrs. EVANS enrolled at Ryerson to study radio and television arts. After graduation she worked as a researcher, first at CFTO-Television, then at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
In 1969, she was invited to join a group called the New Feminists founded by her childhood friend Kantaroff. What followed were city hall demonstrations, petitions and extensive discussions about women's rights.
"Marina was not an academic, not a politician," recalled Kantaroff. "She didn't do too much public speaking. Her contribution was in helping, being supportive and in bringing to consciousness-raising a certain humanity.
"A lot of women wanted to just rail against their husbands and lovers, but we needed to know about us and understand ourselves."
Some of the men, including Carl, were so supportive they formed a group of their own.
"She never believed in bra-burning and stuff like that, but she wanted equality," he said.
In 1980, Mrs. EVANS became the first, and so far only, female president of Canadian Macedonian Place, a seniors' apartment complex on O'Connor Dr.
"She was always kind and generous both of her time and with her spirit to ensure the seniors were well looked after in their twilight years," said lawyer Chris PALLIARE, who served on the board.
Mrs. EVANS also worked on the election campaigns of David COLLENETTE, Alan REDWAY and Dennis TIMBRELL.
"She was one of the best political organizers I've ever known," said health-care consultant TIMBRELL, who ran for leadership of the Ontario Conservatives in 1985.
"She had wonderful people skills, an infectious laugh and a joie de vivre that made everyone want to be there."
Always at the centre of her life was the church that she attended since childhood; she taught Sunday school and directed and danced in its folk-dance group.
"As progressive as she was, she kept all our traditions," said daughter Paulette.
Mrs. EVANS leaves her husband of 54 years, daughters Paulette and Carla, son Tom, sister Tresa and three grandchildren.
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