KNOX, Marian Aileen (nee DOW)

5 July 1928, Crane Valley SK – 12 December 2021, Cochrane AB

The world lost a bit of it’s colour and spark when our beautiful, feisty and resilient mom, Marian, slipped peacefully away on 12 December 2021. Home at last.

Marian was born in Crane Valley, Saskatchewan to Les and Victoria Dow. The youngest of three daughters, she spent her early years in Crane Valley and Assiniboia, where her father, a pharmacist, owned the Dow Pharmacy. At one point the family lived above the local Chinese restaurant, thus initiating a lifetime fondness for Chinese food and Mah Jong. Her childhood was filled with a close-knit network of Aunts, Uncles, cousins, “friends that were family”, and dogs. There were always dogs.

Marian excelled at school and could have attended university when she completed grade 12 at age 16 but she instead went to work in the local bank, like her sisters, Florence and Doris. Age 16 marked another important milestone for Marian: it was then that she met her future husband, local farmer George Knox, at a dance. Marian proved to be a bit shy at that first meeting: in fact, she ran away home. But George was smitten. He persevered and thus began a lifetime love. They were married in 1947 in Moose Jaw SK and set up house in and around Assiniboia.

Son Rick was born in 1951, followed by daughters Kathryn (1953) and Tracy (1961). In 1963 Marian and George joined the exodus west and moved to Alberta, buying an acreage at Bottrel, where Marian’s eldest sister, Doris Bishop, and husband Ole had moved several years earlier. Arriving in February, the family of six (including labrador Tana) lived in a one-bedroom bunkhouse at the Bishop farm, with no indoor bathroom and no running water, while George built a new house on the hill.

The family moved to Calgary in 1967, choosing to live in Charleswood: close to lifetime friends Hank and Phyllis Ellert and family. This proximity facilitated possibly the longest running series of weekly games of gin rummy and “marbles” ever seen, with “the girls” perpetually pitted against “the boys”. It also helped kick off George’s and Hank’s wine- and “swish-” making hobbies, possibly out of necessity.

The years rolled by and Marian’s life was busy with a diverse collection of interests and activities: Girl Guide leader, basket weaving, Chinese cooking, ceramics, square dancing, Latin dancing, jigsaw puzzles, the Expert crossword and logic problems. Summer holidays saw the family trailer camping and happy-houring throughout Alberta, BC and the northwestern US with Marian’s sister Florence Odsen and husband Vern. She was a skilled navigator and tour guide but helping George park the trailer was not her strong suit – or maybe that was just her mischievous sense of humour. Mountain passes and elevated bridges also proved challenging and for those she could usually be found lying on the backseat.

She finally attended University, in her 50’s, taking calculus, economics, astronomy, and various computer languages “for fun”. She of course excelled at all, getting perfect GPAs, while daughter Tracy relied on her mother’s tuition to achieve a passing grade in calculus. Meanwhile Mom became a computer geek before the term was coined. She acquired one of the first Commodore 64 PCs and then promptly reprogrammed it to go faster. She dragged us all into the internet age and was the person everyone called for tech support. Her advice typically started with “go to the DOS prompt”…… She loved keeping spreadsheets of baseball statistics and of household expenses for their income tax.

Marian and George traveled extensively. Their first trip to Hawaii in the winter of 1977 with Florence and Vern, Doris and Ole and a large group of people from the Cochrane area was such a roaring success – helped along by booze cruises and liar’s dice – it became an annual event for more than a decade. They also visited Mexico and Antigua and made many trips to Las Vegas and Southern California (indulging mom’s passion for baseball – inherited from her father – going to see her beloved San Francisco Giants several times). Texas, Hong Kong, Australia, Vietnam and Shanghai also featured. Locally they enjoyed many trips to casinos in and around Calgary with the Ellerts and Balauxs. Mom could squeeze nearly a whole day’s play out of the 5-cent slot machines on a $20 limit and sometimes even broke even.

In 2005, Marian and George returned to live at Bottrel. This was, of course, against all logic – who moves BACK to the farm in their 80’s?? – but once Marian had decided on a particular course of action, it usually happened. There she started every day – all year round – walking her beloved dog Jeff down to “the campground” on the creek. She also kept busy by keeping George busy with all manner of farm improvement/maintenance projects. They especially enjoyed the summers when many celebratory gatherings of family and friends were held around the campfire next to the creek. Son Rick and granddaughter Lee also lived at the farm in the “little house” during this time, and Marian and George loved watching Lee grow up and spend her first few years of school at Westbrook School.

Marian’s enduring legacy is the message that “girls can do anything boys can do” and that getting an education is essential – especially for girls. Her other sage advice includes: “a man is not a financial plan”, and “a day without wine is like a day without sunshine”. Most of all we will miss her spirited sense of humour and the twinkle in her eyes. Neither of which ever deserted her completely.

After George passed away in July 2015 Marian stayed at Bottrel, with the help of live-in carers Casey Maguire and Ronnie Azarse. In August 2016 she moved into long term care. It truly took a village to care for mom these past years and we are very grateful to the entire team at Bethany Cochrane, led by Monica Johnson. Their patience and care has been appreciated more than we can say. A special mention also to Marian’s long time GP Dr. Dennis Fundytus and to Nurse Practitioner Tammy Rogers.

And to “Marian’s Angels” – Marie-Linda Plante and Shannon Lappin – we extend our heartfelt thanks. Your love and commitment to mom have been such a gift to her and to her family. We couldn’t’ have asked for better “proxy daughters”.

Marian is survived by her children Rick Knox, Kathryn Knox (Ty Josdal) and Tracy Berger (Gavan Langerak);granddaughter Lee Knox; brother-in-law Doug Knox and family; the Odsen family; the Ellert family; and more nieces, nephews and friends spread far and wide.

Due to Covid and the tyranny of distance, Marian’s Celebration of Life will take place at a future time. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to her favourite charity: the Cochrane and Area Humane Society http://www.cochranehumane.com/ Meanwhile, Marian would approve if you raised your glass in a toast to her life, especially if it’s accompanied by some Willie Nelson or Hawaiian tunes.

Arrangements entrusted to Florence (Flo) Simpson, Funeral Director

Cochrane Country Funeral Home – cochrane@piersons.ca – 403-932-1039

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  1. On 18/12/2021 at 9:57 pm Laura Koltusky Said:

    My sincere condolences on your mom’s passing Rick , Kathryn, Tracy and families. I always enjoyed coming to your home when I was growing up and the visits at your home in Brentwood when I attended University. Your mom will be missed but will always live on in your heart ❤️

  2. On 21/12/2021 at 3:07 am Jo Ellen Cerny Said:

    Thank you for the beautiful reminder of your Mother’s life. We all looked forward to Marian and George visiting Hawaii. She had a wonderful family that loved her and cared for her deeply. I cherish the summer I visited her and George with Kathryn. My Love to you all

  3. On 21/12/2021 at 10:42 am Deb Phillips Said:

    Deepest Condolences to the family! This is a beautiful tribute to your Mom’s life and paints a true picture of the wonderful person she was, full of humour and a passion for living life to the fullest. Marian always made me feel welcome in your home during my high school years and later out in Bottrel on occasional visits with Kathryn. How wonderful that George and her had the opportunity to spend many years traveling the world. It is always difficult losing a loved one but know how lucky she was to have a loving, caring family, friends and caregivers who surrounded her with love and cared for her until she passed. May Marian rest is peace and the memories of her remain in your heart forever! Here is a toast to YOU!❤️ Love and hugs to all!

  4. On 22/12/2021 at 5:24 pm Faye & Kenzie MacLeod Said:

    Our sincere sympathy to Rick Kathryn and Tracey on the loss of your Mom. Faye & Kenzie MacLeod

  5. On 01/01/2022 at 4:28 pm Elfrieda Heiden Said:

    So sorry to hear of the great loss of your Mom Marian. She was a wonderful person, and I was glad to have met her. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.