Hundreds took part in a Celebration of Life for longtime White Rock councillor Mary-Wade-Anderson. Photos below include: White Rock RCMP Const. Deryk Roberts standing guard; former Surrey councillor Judy Higginbotham; speakers Marilyn Rice and White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin; and Semiahmoo First Nation's Joanne Charles and Samantha Wells sing the Woman's Warrior Song.

‘Woman warrior’ eulogized

Hundreds attend Celebration of Life for veteran White Rock councillor Mary-Wade Anderson.

Mary-Wade Anderson was a feisty woman who spoke from the heart and shot from the hip.

And, given that the longtime White Rock city councillor was also an admirer of men in uniform, she would have been pleased at the turnout of firefighters and RCMP officers who came to pay her their final respects Wednesday, during a celebration of life at the White Rock Community Centre.

“Mary is smiling at the firefighters today,” quipped Judy Forster, one of three former White Rock mayors who spoke at the tribute.

Anderson, 84, died June 26, nearly four months after undergoing a heart-valve  replacement. She had served the city on council for 12½ years, but her love for the city dates back much further.

White Rock RCMP Const. Deryk Roberts

Forster’s comment was among many stories about Anderson that evoked a chuckle that afternoon from the more than 300 residents, business people and fellow politicos who gathered.

Keeping the event lighthearted is what Anderson would have wanted, said Mayor Wayne Baldwin.

“We know that she would want this to be an uplifting experience, lots of shared memories… and no sadness whatsoever,” he said.

Keeping with the theme, Baldwin recalled the time Anderson suggested she would have liked to see him, too, in a uniform.

“I told her, ‘nothing fits but the hat,'” he said.

Baldwin described Anderson as a woman who had “a smile and a laugh that could warm up a room and a wit that could cut like a razor,” – qualities he’s sure contributed to her being quoted in the newspapers seemingly more often than many other council members.

Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg – White Rock’s mayor from 1984-1993 – recalled the slogan Anderson was considering using when she first decided to run for council: “There’s something about Mary.”

The popular movie of the same name had recently been released, he noted, and Anderson quickly proved herself worthy of the phrase.

Dormer Surrey councillor Judy Higginbotham

When Hogg was mayor, Anderson would often visit him at city hall, “to tell me what it was I needed to do.” Shortly after her heart operation in March, Anderson called Hogg to come for a visit, praising the care she’d received in hospital, raving about the family she’d recently reunited with and demanding he bring her a Tim Hortons muffin – “and she told me what I needed to do.”

“She was right – there truly is something about Mary.”

Other speakers included Jackie Smith, executive director of Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation, former White Rock mayor Hardy Staub and Marilyn Rice, who first met Anderson in 2001 but became extremely close over the 15 months before she died.

Their bond solidified after Anderson called early one morning for help, Rice said. The senior had fallen the night before in city hall chambers and broken her hip. While she was seen in Peace Arch Hospital that night, the fracture wasn’t discovered, and Anderson had been helped home to bed, then left to fend for herself. In the morning, unable to get up, she called Rice.

Marilyn Rice and White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin“That phone call changed my life for the next 15 months,” Rice said, describing how the pair discovered they were kindred spirits.

Anderson was intensely private about her personal life, Rice noted, but opened up after a phone call during last fall’s election campaign. It was from a relative in England, who had news that the children she had lost touch with 50 years before had tracked her down and were anxious to connect.

“Those years of carrying that private, heavy burden fell off,” Rice said, and Anderson added a new passion – family – to the list that for so long gave priority to city politics and health care.

Sadly, while Anderson spent five days with her son and daughter in April when they travelled to Blaine to meet her, her final days were once again burdened by the inability to be with her children. Her daughter, Jenny Awakuni, was denied a passport by U.S. officials, preventing her from crossing the border to be with her mother.

“It was very unfortunate that government bureaucracy got in the way of Jenny getting up her to see her mother,” Rice said.

Semiahmoo First Nation Coun. Joanne Charles and Samantha Wells

Rice said she takes comfort in knowing Anderson is finally getting the break she so needed from the physical pain of the weeks before.

“May her rest be eternal,” she said.

Wednesday’s service concluded with a blessing and songs by members of Semiahmoo First Nation. Band councillor Joanne Charles said Anderson “has a special place in our heart” for her work to build bridges between the city and SFN, and her efforts to work in partnership for the betterment of the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

One song performed – the Woman’s Warrior Song – gives thanks to all of the women who have fought for the community, Charles said.

“It’s only fitting that that song be sung today,” she said.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A past extreme weather response shelter set up for women inside Surrey’s Nightshift Street Ministries. (Photo: Chris Paul/
Homeless people in Surrey face ‘shocking and scary’ scenario this winter

Last winter there were nine Extreme Weather Response shelters in all of Surrey and White Rock. So far, during this pandemic, there are only five lined up for the coming winter

File photo
Surrey Mounties seeking dash-cam footage of Whalley road rage fight

Two men are alleged to have stabbed one another

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Fleetwood teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 after an altercation left an elderly man in critical condition. (File photo)
Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read