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Marie Cosgrove leaves an inspirational legacy

The RTOERO Foundation recently received a most generous bequest gift from Marie Cosgrove. The following story was sent to us by Dorothy Hollingsworth, District 23, in honour of her friend.

Anita Stillman and Marie Cosgrove

When advising my friend, Marie Cosgrove, a long-time secondary school teacher in the North York school system in the latter days of her life as to how some of the money from the sale of the house of her sister Anita, also a long-time teacher with the Durham Catholic Board of Education had bequeathed her, we decided one of the recipients of the proceeds should be the RTOERO Foundation.

Good causes deserve generous funding. Educators should be proud of the Chair in Geriatric Medicine established in 2014 by RTOERO. The RTOERO Chair in Geriatric Medicine at the University of Toronto is held by Dr. Paula Rochon. Dr. Rochon and her group conduct research related to aging and older adults and the societal health challenges facing older adults.

Marie taught business subjects at Northview Heights Secondary School for many years before branching out into special education in other North York schools and finally as Administrative Assistant at Victoria Park Secondary School. Marie was a dedicated educator. She and her sister Anita grew up in Cobourg. Anita attended “Normal School”, later to be known as Teacher’s College and for 40 years taught elementary classes and was a school librarian with the Durham Catholic School Board.

Following graduation from Grade 13, Marie thoroughly enjoyed the secretarial work she did for a doctor at Hamilton General Hospital. However, when there was a severe shortage of teachers in the 1960s Marie was quickly hired to teach at Northview Heights Secondary School with the North York Board of Education. Earning university credits at night school and summer school was an ordeal but her persistence and dedication paid off when she completed a BA from York University.

Marie never married but led a very fulfilled life with her keen interest in sports, music, animals, travel and reading. Marie always had some pet to keep her company, usually a dog but cats in later years as they demanded less active attention. She had several devoted friends with whom she skied in the winter and enjoyed cottage life in the summer. For several years, Marie, her sister Anita and brother-in-law, Gord Stillman owned a cottage that offered them many summers of enjoyment.

Upon retirement, Marie travelled abroad frequently and especially enjoyed spending time with German friends who had bought her Toronto condo years before in the ’80s. Marie acted as the landlady which endeared her to these people who entertained her royally when she visited them at one of their many homes scattered across Europe.

I was fortunate to meet Marie during my few years as a counsellor at Northview Heights. We remained close buddies thereafter. She was a frequent visitor at my farm and never hesitated to pitch in to perform some heavy-duty yard work for which she had a passion and enjoyed doing. We often met in the city for a night out or at my home for dinner with my husband who particularly enjoyed Marie’s company.

After my retirement, when my husband and I were away on one of our many annual tours, (I founded a small specialized tour company called Know the World Tours) Marie would take care of the office for us.

In later years, Marie had not been in good health but soldiered on. A fall in early 2020 fractured her left femur. She was hospitalized for several weeks before spending months in a rehab facility. It was later discovered that the rod to secure the thigh had shifted due to a very osteoporotic hip and required a revision in the spring of 2021.

Sadly, her sister Anita died in mid-December 2020. Other medical complications followed for Marie which proved too difficult for her body to overcome. Marie died in May 2021 in her 89th year. Hers was a life well-lived and basically dedicated to the service of others which she has continued with her generous $100,000 gift to the RTOERO Foundation.

I am hopeful Marie’s bequest will inspire many other education sector employees, both retired and actively employed, to consider their own legacy and include this charity in their will as a profound and lasting contribution to those who follow, as my friend, Marie Cosgrove has done.