Mary R. Hancock
MARY R. ‘MOLLY’ HANCOCK
Peacefully, at Finlandia Village, Sudbury, on Christmas Eve and just six weeks shy of her 102nd birthday. Molly came to Canada in 1940, evacuated from war-time England with her young son and daughter. Welcomed by the generous Moyer family in the Niagara Peninsula, she became a social worker with the Children’s Aid Society in St. Catharines. Her passion for child welfare, a vital theme throughout her life, was developed in this period. During the years that followed, she gained MSW and BA degrees in that order.
Molly had a gift for teaching and scholarship and was always grateful to Laurentian University for offering her, in 1975, an appointment in their new School of Social Work in Sudbury. She taught there for nearly ten years, served as its Acting Director when needed, co-authored an important text-book, and was lauded with an Honorary Doctorate on her retirement. For some years thereafter she conducted a private practice.
Born in London in 1916, Molly lived through the turmoil and tragedies of the twentieth century. (These included her marriage – a casualty of WWII.) Her vigorous response was a life-long dedication to social justice: civil rights, feminism, the trade union movement, and social democratic politics were among her many causes. A member of the CCF from the 1940’s, she remained a force in the Sudbury NDP for many years. In 2000, Molly was named Agnes McPhail Woman of the Year.
Her strong advocacy was always mellowed by a sense of humour – “my beatification” she called the Hon Doc ceremony at Laurentian; a love of travel, which took her hiking in the Himalayas; music and theatre – she performed character roles on stage in the early years of the Shaw Festival. And there were periodic enthusiasms such as photography or ethnic cooking. Throughout she maintained a tinge of lingering British propriety, even when marching with a sign.
Always there was good talk with good friends, and particularly with her family, which included five grandchildren and their spouses, six great-grandchildren, and three generations of nieces and nephews in the U.K. Her eloquent readings of classic British nursery rhymes will live on, as will her capacity for uproarious laughter and delight.
During her years in Sudbury, Molly developed a deep affinity with Northern Ontario – its people, their strong values and its rugged terrain. She came to regard the Canadian Shield as a personal homeland. A landscape framing her own spirit of independence. Among her final instructions she asked that her ashes be cast from a suitable peak near Sudbury.
The family thanks the staff of Southwind, where Molly lived so comfortably in her later years, and of Finlandia Village where she finally let go. Cremation has been arranged by the Co-Operative Funeral Home in Sudbury. A celebration of Molly’s life will be held later this year. Donations if desired may be made to the Dr. Molly Hancock Bursary Fund at Laurentian University. Condolences @ cooperativefuneralhome.ca.