Mary Dopson has a lot to celebrate this fall. In September, not only did the Kerrisdale resident turn 105 (photo, above) but she also became the oldest living female inducted into both the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (photo, below left) and the new Athletics Manitoba Hall of Fame. Her son, Richard Dopson, accepted the latter award on Mary’s behalf at the launch ceremony in Winnipeg (photo, below right).
What’s more, as a Kerrisdale Community Centre Society (KCCS) member, Mary is emblematic of a life well spent contributing to one’s neighbourhood as a volunteer. With our 80th anniversary year coming to an end, we thought we’d highlight Mary’s storied background and inspiring journey at the centre.
Falling in love with track and field at the age of 13 in Winnipeg, Mary set an intermediate record in the running broad jump at the trials for the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. Sadly, a lack of funding prevented her from making the trip abroad. She would go on, however, to represent Canada at the 1938 British Empire Games in Sydney, Australia.
A member of the KCCS since 1985 when she moved to Kerrisdale, Mary generously gave of her time, including knitting 280 chair socks to protect the Seniors Centre’s new wood flooring, lobbying the Vancouver Park Board to ensure a rose garden was installed in Centennial Park, co-founding the Busy Bees volunteer knitting group and serving on the Seniors Council for two years in her 90s. All of which led to her being named Volunteer of the Year in 2014, alongside Bernie Percy (photo, below left).
The centenarian’s KCCS legacy now lives on in Mary’s Corner, a weekly pop-up shop that sells items crafted by the centre’s Knit a Bit & More volunteers. And Mary’s volunteer spirit apparently runs in the family. As current chair of the Seniors Council, Richard recalls his mother’s many words of wisdom over the years.
“Mary taught me to always dress your best and look in a mirror before you go out – she always wore earrings to match her outfit. And she taught me to observe, ask questions, put others before yourself,” says Richard. As a former athlete, he adds, she also advised not to smoke, drink lots of water, exercise daily and eat lots of vegetables.
Apt advice for all. Thank you, Mary!
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