Mary Mabel Bernice Chadwick passed away quietly in the morning of April 13, 2015 in her room in the Tony Stacey Veterans’ Care Centre. She had awakened that morning, and spoke briefly to staff, but nodded off shortly after. She never awoke.
She was 95 years old and lived a full, rich life, one of remarkable resilience and strength.
Mary was born shortly after WWI, and grew up in Canada during the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression and the years of recovery that followed. But then war came back.
She was a young woman when WWII broke out. She soon followed the family tradition of service. In 1942, she volunteered, and served the rest of the war as a Wren (WRNS – Women’s Royal Navy Service, nicknamed Wrens) in Halifax; a nurse in the naval hospital. Her wartime experiences would build her character and help her survive her own life’s tragedies.
Mary was always proud of her veteran status. Her father was a naval veteran of WWI, and her two brothers, Billie and Doug, had joined the Canadian navy early in the war. Twenty-two-year-old Billie died at sea in 1943 when his ship, the destroyer St. Croix, was torpedoed while escorting a convoy in the North Atlantic.
Mary had a framed picture of them both, young men in their Navy uniforms, on her wall in her room, each adorned with a red poppy. She never forgot, and she attended Remembrance Day ceremonies every year.