Advanced Search:

Regular Search
❮ Go Back to Listings


Date of Passing: Jan 15, 2023

Send Flowers to the Family Offer Condolences or Memory

Adjust Text Size: A+ A-


Mary liked life and probably would have preferred to live. But her death was a gift. She would be cajolingly scolding and shaking her finger at me to discover I was a proponent of her death but it provided well-deserved relief from her past few years of suffering.
Born to Helen and Ted Burke-Gaffney in Sherridon, MB, August 1942; the family later moved to Winnipeg. There she lived for more than 70 years, and there she died, January 15, 2023. As the eldest, she was a quiet leader to her six remaining siblings, their mates, and a myriad of extended family and friends. She was proud to be married to Brian Rusk for 38 years.
Mary was vulnerable but not shy. She was strong in herself and had an inherent attitude of joy and participation in life. Accompanied by a strong sense of curiosity, she would probe people endlessly about their lives. She would enthusiastically explore the world through arm chair travelogues and, her favourite, National Geographic magazine. She would talk to animals in a seemingly gibberish language with the expectation that they fully understood her (and they did act accordingly!).
With her quirky sense of humour, she could play piano by ear, and would spontaneously compose and sing songs, all with rhyming verses. She could playfully give and take teasing. Her witty retorts were hard to match. She participated in a bowling league, watched wrestling for a laugh, was interested in the arts, and enjoyed culinary explorations. All her activities involved others, and that is what helped Mary thrive.
Her community participation was extensive since early adulthood. It began with employment at a vocational workshop. From there, and throughout her life, she served as a volunteer and educator. She willingly advocated for rights of inclusion and equality for people with intellectual disabilities. She travelled to attend conferences, participated on panels, gave speeches and spoke to media. She volunteered with community organizations that served her marginalized companions.
The essence of Mary is that others were her life. She lived simply, loved people unconditionally, and they loved her. Innocence and openness allowed her to be a genuine, accepting, non-judgemental human being. That is not to say that she wasn't opinionated. She could and would call you out on your BS, but did so in a fully forgiving and loving manner. She was a bold and formidable force who endured persistent challenges with courage and kindness.

She will be missed.

A heap of gratitude is given to Lions Personal Care Home, second floor staff, for the loving and attentive care given to Mary for the past two years.
There will be no service. Donations, if so wished, can be made to Agape Table (
A photo-biography, as well as memories and stories published by those who knew her are available at

Simple Cremation & Life Celebrations
204-421-5501 -

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Jan 21, 2023

Condolences & Memories (1 entries)

  • Mary and I have a special connection to the town known as Paradise. Lynn Lake. In 1950, Sherritt Gordon Mines Limited moved its Sherridon mining operations 165 miles to Lynn Lake, Man. At that time Mary was around 8 years old. Her father Ted moved the family and joined the mining community North of 56. While my family did not move to Lynn Lake until 1962, I had the honour of meeting Mary and her husband Brian in Winnipeg during the summer of 1998. We became friends and often shared holidays plus special events at her favorite dining place - The Feast. Yes, it was a couple rough years for Mary. And throughout this time her husband Brian and I would connect with her thru video chats on Fridays. During my last visit just before this Christmas, Mary and I held hands. In my mind, she will always remain as one of the most compassionate and loving persons in my life. You will be missed and fondly remembered R.I.P. my friend. - Posted by: Pete G (Friend) on: Jan 22, 2023

Ethical Death Care Service

Ethical Death Care Service

530 St Mary Ave (Map)
Ph: 2044215501 | Visit Website

❮ Go Back to Listings