When students sit in the shade of the young elm tree in front of the Faculty of Human Ecology, they will be sitting on a bench in honour of a woman whose own roots at the U of M allowed her to branch out.
Susan English has given a gift to the U of M in memory of her mother Margaret Richards (nee Bawlf) who graduated from the Faculty of Human Ecology, then known as Home Economics, in 1939. “It’s been 30 years since I lost my mother, so I thought I should do something to commemorate the 30th anniversary of her death,” says English, whose gift supports a tree and bench in front of the Faculty.
Margaret Richards’ training at the U of M prepared her for a successful career as a dietician. “When my mother was interning at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, she always said it was her good fortune to have studied at the University of Manitoba,” says English. “As interns, the work involved many challenges in both clinical and administrative areas and the skills she learned at the U of M prepared her for these.” Richards went on to become Director of Dietetics at Westminster Hospital in London, ON until her retirement in 1978.
English attributes the opportunities she had in her own life to the fact her mother was university-educated. “My parents divorced when I was quite young so she was a single parent. Without her education and her job, my life certainly would have been very different,” English says. “My mother always instilled the importance of education in me.”
“It is a bit emotional,” said English about seeing the tree and bench in her mother’s honour for the first time. “But it’s a very good feeling.”