As the only child of a mother and father who left home for work each morning, five days a week, my wife, Marilynn, began living a latch key existence at a very early age and was given the responsibility of returning home directly from school to do household duties pending the return of her parents. Her childhood was therefore less than ideal, so it is not surprising she married, at a young age, a young man who adored her and treated her as his most precious possession. Two children, were born of their love, a daughter, Lorraine, and a son, Ronald, who were cared for and raised by Marilynn, after the sudden untimely death of their father. As time passed, the children moved out to carry on their own lives and Marilynn and her mother Ruby, who was now a widow, decided to sell the family house and moved to a condominium.
Ruby was becoming more and more arthritic. She needed constant care which Marilynn gave her daily. Marilynn also did all the housework and drove Ruby to doctor's appointments, shopping, etc. and she herself was having considerable trouble with arthritis. It was at this point in her life we met.
We married and Marilynn gave me twelve of the best years of my life. Sadly, she passed away on October 7th, 2001 of an infection she caught while in hospital with a very minor ailment. It was an enormous blow to me. I am still trying to recover. She will always live in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to have met her.
Marilynn had joined the Westhill Lions Club, which consisted of males, who are called "Lions", and their female companions, who are called "Lionesses," the wives, daughters or friends who take care of duties involved in setting up the monthly meetings, such as food, drinks, table linens, etc. Marilynn had a strong desire to have a part in the club's proceedings, which at that time, was handled by Lions, not Lionesses. One of the male Lions, Harry Fontana, sponsored her during the election of officers, and in the year 2001, she was inducted into office, and so became Ontario's first Lady Lion, something which made her very happy.
Marilynn was a great animal lover, and we are shown here with her son's cockatiel, "Rickey".
As the survivor of our union, I have had the good fortune to meet with Mr. O'Sullivan, the Chairman & CEO of The Humane Society of Canada to which Marilynn made a donation in her Will. He has arranged a tree to be planted in their tropical rainforest reserve in Marilynn's memory.
Sincerely, Robert Hildreth.
Robert Hildreth : A Memorial
Born in Montreal in 1912, Robert Thomas Hildreth joined a somewhat unlucky generation: these people hit into the Depression just when many of them would normally have pursued a post-secondary education. Bright and talented, Bob should have done so, but like so many his age, he had to search for what little work there was in order to help his struggling mortgage-bound parents: his father was then jobless. On his CCM bicycle and in all weathers, he delivered clothes for a local Notre Dame de Grace cleaner; then, even before the war broke out, he joined up, actually looking forward to being posted overseas and seeing action. Instead, because of his flat feet and the Canadian army's recognition of his musical talent (Bob was a consummate saxophone and clarinet player) they relegated him to an army band that sat out most of the war at a freezing camp just outside of Montreal. However, this turn of events proved not without benefit for Bob's future: after the war he formed his own band (joined, for a while by a young McGill student by the name of Burt Bacharach) which played numerous gigs, both at Montreal night spots and in nearby Laurentian resorts.
Bob had three wives, Louise, Ethel, and Marilynn, all of whom, sadly, predeceased him. With his second wife, Ethel, he had a daughter, Nancy, born in Magog, Quebec, where Bob had taken a day-job as an estimator for a headstone company. When this firm was bought out by Americans, Bob and family relocated to Toronto, where he found similar employment. After the death of Ethel, he met and married Marilynn, who gave him, he said, "the best twelve years of my life". They spent several winters at their mobile home in Apache Junction, Arizona; also for a time, they lived near Kelowna, B.C., before finally returning to Toronto in 2000. The next year, Marilynn entered a Scarborough hospital for a routine operation, but somehow, unaccountably, came into contact with a lethal form of superbug, and, after a short illness, died. Bob was bereft.
Both Marilynn and Bob were great animal lovers and ardent supporters of the Humane Society, as evidenced by their generous bequests. Bob's family had always had pets, mainly dogs, though later he switched his allegiance to cats. But all nature appealed to him: he, along with his wife, would ride horses into the Arizona countryside, spend hours watching birds come to their feeder, and collect all sorts of books on nature. He was completely devoted to a succession of family cats. When one beloved cat, Dusty, died, Bob had its uncanny likeness painted on a small rock, an item he treasured and kept with him for the rest of his days.
On Dec. 30, 2005, at the age of 93, Bob passed away at Oakville-Trafalgar Hospital. He had had a heart attack, but had also been in declining health for some months. Robert Hildreth was a remarkable man, loved by all who came to know him. To quote Hamlet, "He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again". As per his request, he leaves a substantial donation to the Humane Society, so that even in death his love of and compassion for animals lives on.
- Fondly remembered by: Bruce Ashdown (nephew) and Ron Partridge (stepson)