On Friday July 9th the Yukon lost one of its colourful 5%. Mary Elaine Fitton left us after a truly amazing life. Born in December of 1943 in Hastings, England to Enid and Samuel, Mary, and her brother Derek, grew up in a loving and musical household. She spent her teen years as a competitive swimmer and as a musician and in 1966 fulfilled the requirements for her Associateship with the London College of Music (ALCM) something she was always very proud of.
Mary worked as a secretary in England then chose a life of adventure and headed to Canada. She was in Vancouver when she saw an advertisement for Rendezvous in Whitehorse and decided to go. “It all started by my visit to the Whitehorse Sourdough Rendezvous in February 1971.” She raced in the snowshoe race on borrowed snowshoes and thus began her Yukon adventures. Later that year she was hired to work for a local law firm and drove up the highway in her pink VW bug. She planned a trip to Australia and when she didn’t make it, she returned to the Yukon for good.
Mary did so many things in her time with us:
She began Sourdough Secretarial Services, which she owned for 10 years, as she was an exceptional typist (once mentioning she was capable of 140 error free wpm on her old manual typewriter). She knew shorthand, was a strong business woman and a meticulous record keeper (right up to the day she went into hospital she kept a daily journal). Mary was a long- time member of the Hansard Team, a Notary Public, a Marriage Commissioner and a volunteer secretary for many organizations.
Mary worked hard and she played hard—she was a strong Badminton player (won bronze in 1976 AWG in Quebec and competed in the Senior Games), she played racquetball into the late 80’s. Mary was also an integral part of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 254, from bartender to secretary Mary played a part in everything Legion related. She played drums with the Midnight Sun Pipe Band, participated in the Outhouse Races and was legendary for her development of the Snowshoe Shufflers Can Can performing over the years at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, Edmonton’s Klondike Days and at Vancouver’s Expo 86.
The love of her life was Bob Hewton, a geologist, who was taken from her in a tragic helicopter accident in 1994. “I’ve stayed single as I can’t find anybody to match up to him” she once said.
And Mary loved pink-- she lived in a pink house with pink appliances, and she once had a pink VW- her final request was to be dressed in pink.
But most of all Mary was a loyal and generous friend; the unsinkable Rat River Mary - we will miss her so much.
She is survived by her 3 special ‘children’ Christopher Muller (Kayla/ Hudson and Foster), Catherine Gilmore (Walter/Adeline and Hunter) and Brenden Hodgson (Francisca).
If you would like to donate in Mary’s name- the Legion or Guide Dogs for the Blind were organizations close to Mary’s heart.
A celebration of her truly outstanding life will be held in the spring of 2022.
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming, “Wow, what a ride!!”
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