HALIFAX — Mary Munson didn’t want a funeral.
The retired CBC journalist wanted a celebration of life and hers had to be celebrated.
In addition to her professionalism, Munson was known for being fully involved in everything she did. whether it’s a documentary, reading for the visually impaired or hanging rugs.
“She made everyone happy. My daughters love her,” her husband David Cameron said. “That’s what I will miss about her is that she has allowed me to meet so many more people and we have some really good friends here who are really supportive. It doesn’t matter where she goes or what she In fact, she seduces people. The nurses at the hospital loved her.”
A graduate of the journalism program at what was Ryerson University (renamed Toronto Metropolitan University in April), the 71-year-old worked for CBC in Toronto, Charlottetown and Halifax primarily as a producer, but also as a researcher and journalist.
CBC programs she worked on throughout her career included “Midday”, “The Journal” and “The National”, as well as “Man Alive” and “Land and Sea”.
While working in CBC Health, Munson spent three years directing the documentary “Angela’s Journey,” which is about a young mother with terminal breast cancer.
“It was probably the part of her job that she was most proud of,” Cameron said. “She followed (Angela Vecchio-Ozmon) from the start of her diagnosis until her death. She did an amazing job.”
An avid reader, Munson joined book clubs and after retirement became a CNIB reader, reading to those who are visually impaired.
Munson befriended a Glace Bay woman she was reading to, who was 97 when Munson was 67, a friendship that prompted the reporter to write an article.
LOVE AND FRIENDSHIPS
Along with being proud of her job, Munson was proud of the relationship she had with Cameron.
Together for 22 years and married for 12, the couple met while working at CBC in Halifax but only started dating a few years later.
At age 60, Munson married Cameron; his first nuptials and his second.
“She tells everyone, she said our marriage was one of the best things that ever happened to her,” Cameron said.
In her book, “Fairies in Cape Breton”, she dedicates it to her husband with an inscription from her heart: “To Dave…for once in my life”.
After the couple retired, they moved back to Cape Breton in 2011, where Cameron grew up and his mother still lives.
They bought their Howie Center home and it wasn’t long before Munson was inviting all their neighbors over for dinner marking the start of a great friendship between them, something she seemed to do everywhere she went.
As well as being part of a book club in Sydney, which Cameron jokingly called the “Wine and Talking Club”, Munson was dedicated to the Down East Rug Hookers and served as its president.
“You could see all the connections to people she made,” Cameron said. “No matter what she was doing…she was actively involved in it. And she enjoyed everything she did.”
Born in Campbellton, New Brunswick, Munson’s father was a pastor and their family moved to a church in Montreal, Quebec when she was 10 years old.
After finishing high school in Montreal, Munson went to Toronto for college, then landed her first job in Barrie, Ontario at CKBR, then got a job at CBC where she worked for 37 years.
Meticulous and detail-oriented, we knew whatever position Munson was in on the show — production, researcher, reporter — she would be prepared when she arrived. The plans would be pre-planned and everything would go smoothly.
Cameron said it was the same in her life and she started writing her first book with the same level of organization and determination.
Most of Munson’s life has been spent in the cities, so when her friends heard the couple were moving to Cape Breton, they figured she wouldn’t like it. But they were very wrong.
“She’s adjusted to her coming back better than me,” Cameron said with a laugh. “In the end, she thought of herself as a Cape Bretoner.”
Munson died of pancreatic cancer, diagnosed in August. In mid-September, she was able to see an oncologist but her health rapidly deteriorated. When she started her chemotherapy, the doctors said she was too weak to follow the treatment.
Admitted to hospital, within weeks Munson was transferred to hospice care and Cameron remained by his side until the end. Munson died on October 12, a month after her 72nd birthday.
And along with many people Munson has touched over the years, Cameron will celebrate his life Thursday at the Armdale Yacht Club in Halifax from 4-7 p.m.
Age: 72 years old
Born: Campbellton, N.B.
Husband: David Cameron
Place of work: Toronto, Charlottetown, Halifax
Career Highlights: Documentary “Angela’s Journey”
Liked: Cooking, upholstering, reading
CBC Highlights: “Land and Sea”, “Midday”, “The Journal”
Nicole Sullivan is a diversity and education reporter, who sometimes covers health, at the Cape Breton Post.