We recently lost a valued member of our 'QUBS Family'. Marg Phelan passed away on June 16th after a three-and-a half-year battle with cancer. During that ordeal, Marg inspired everyone who knew her by the determination, courage and strength with which she fought this battle. And Frank, with his unflinching support throughout, certainly earned everyone's greatest respect.
For some 37 years, Marg was an important part of QUBS. While she worked in the kitchen for some twenty-one of those years, and was head cook for many of them, she was certainly more than 'just a cook' at QUBS. Virtually everyone who came to QUBS had contact with Marg. Since the kitchen is in the lodge, at the heart of QUBS, most people go to the kitchen first, and it was usually Marg who fielded the questions. "Where's Frank?" "Have you seen.....?" How do I .....?" So while her work in the kitchen was important, her presence was much greater than that. She was something of an icon at QUBS, one who met and greeted professors, grad students, undergrad researchers, TA's, field course students, weekend field trip students, Queen's administrators, service people, visitors, and friends. If she wasn't in the kitchen, and if Frank wasn't readily found, people went to Frank and Marg's house where Marg would still cheerily answer their myriad questions. So, in looking back over the entire time she spent at QUBS, I think that Marg's greatest contribution was that she willingly, indeed happily, lived nearly all of her married life of nearly 39 years at the Station. She and Frank moved to the Station in 1976, soon after Frank completed his M.Sc. and just two years after they got married. They raised their two boys there and she was still there recently when her grandchildren came to visit. The Station was home to Marg. She gardened there, she welcomed guests there and, like a home, she always had the best interests of the Station at heart.
Marg retired from her work in the kitchen after the summer of 2008. This spring, Steve Lougheed organized the making of a commemorative bronze plaque to acknowledge Marg's service to the Station. The plaque, which will hang in the lodge, was presented to her in their home in early May. The plaque reads:
Indeed, we will all remember Marg for her laughter! Recently, as I hurried through the third floor of old Earl Hall, I was drawn to the collage of QUBS photos in one of the display cases. I was delighted to see a picture of Marg in the kitchen of the old lodge, a big smile on her face, working away. This is how many of us will remember Marg.
by Raleigh Robertson. Professor Emeritus & Ex-Director of QUBS