Community remembers Marina Thorpe’s ‘giving heart’ at memorial unveiling

Marina Thorpe's friends and family surround the memorial bench unveiled Saturday. Dalelene Yelland is seated centre right, with Adam Thorpe the tall gentleman behind her. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

Marina Thorpe loved the outdoors. Her son, Adam, remembers her walking him to school through the park outside their home in Crescent Acres.

“We’d always come for walks,” he said. “We’d watch fireworks here on Canada Day.”

Two and a half years ago, Adam’s mother was taken from him. She was shot by a young offender and pronounced dead outside a residence in their neighbourhood. Her violent end shocked friends and family, who came together to find a way to remember her life.

They chose the spot that Adam remembers, by the Rotary Trail, just behind their family home on Helme Crescent. A memorial bench will stand there, giving those she touched a place to sit and remember her life.

There are many. Marina worked as a nurse at the Victoria Hospital, caring for people at their most trying times. She volunteered at the Salvation Army, and devoted countless hours to community organizations like the Christian Women’s Club, the Rotary Club and the Red Hat Society.

Adam said she did that work with humility.

“She was always kind of the one who wouldn’t want recognition for anything,” he said. “She would do stuff to help other people but would want to do it secretly.”

Marina’s friends raised thousands for the memorial, which cost about $2,500 – and will pass on the remaining hundreds to the Salvation Army, her favourite charity. Dalelene Yelland spoke about their efforts at an unveiling ceremony Saturday, and reflected on what the bench symbolizes.

“It represents Marina’s giving spirit and the gifts that she has given to each of us,” Yelland said. “Her love, her friendship.”

More than two dozen people showed up for the ceremony, many from the neighbourhood, but others from Marina’s childhood home in the Porcupine Plain area. Joyce Chase-Weber recalled childhood moments she passed with Marina there.

“Marina stayed with us at the farm a number of times,” she said. “We had lots of fun evenings giggling in bed, lots of scolding from my parents.”

“She was a very dear friend,” Chase-Weber continued. “She’s always had that giving heart.”

Adam and his fiancée, Nicole Hillier, said the bench is a fitting tribute. Hillier said she thinks people can use it to reflect on what Marina did for her community.

“So many people remember her for the things she did and they can come here and reflect,” she said. “She did so much for them, and it’s nice that they can come back here and remember the impact she’s had on their life.”

For her son, the spot will always be a rich source of memories.

“We can come back here years later,” he said, “…have a moment, and remember.”