Many community members are mourning the death of a woman credited for improving the lives of many local families and children.
Marjorie Staal was the executive director of New Westminster Family Place for more than two decades. Staal, 71, passed away suddenly on Nov. 25 at the age of 71.
“We are so sad to hear about Marjorie’s death. She leaves a legacy here at Family Place and in our community. We have heard numerous stories from our families about her impact – her deep listening is something spoken of to this day,” said a statement from Family Place. “She was part of the steering committee that founded Family Place, and as the second executive director she was tireless in advocating for the services of family place and the families we serve. Family Place grew from a borrowed space at the public health unit to our current six-site community institution today.”
Staal was part of a planning group that got New Westminster Family Place going in 1989 and served as its executive director from 1991 until her retirement in April 2017. For more than two decades, she was the face of the non-profit that provides free drop-ins for kids, parent education programs, support groups and early literacy programs.
Following her retirement from New Westminster Family Place, Staal got involved in a number of different groups, including the Group of Five and Friends Benevolent Society, which raises funds for equipment and services at Royal Columbian Hospital.
“She was one of the people in New Westminster who did so much to improve the life of everyone in New Westminster who use the services. She saw a need and tried to help,” said Betty McIntosh, a former city councillor and a member of the Group of Five. “She was well appreciated by so many people.”
A celebration of Staal’s life is taking place on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. at Kearney’s Columbia-Bowell Chapel at 219 Sixth St. In lieu of flowers, her family asks that donations be made in Staal’s name to the B.C. Cancer Society.