Friends of Marion Fields Wyllie, who died Saturday at the age of 106, say the Owen Sound writer and poet always had a positive outlook on life and a brilliant sense of humour.
“Marion was a very optimistic woman, always cheerful,” said longtime pal Paula Niall, who shared Mrs. Wyllie’s passion for writing.
Rosemary Fenwick, who attended Central Westside United Church with Mrs. Wyllie, said her friend “had a tough life,” but always looked on the bright side and had a smile to share.
“I was certainly privileged to be a part of Marion’s inner circle,” she said.
Born Oct. 5, 1906, at a farm east of Thornbury, Mrs. Wyllie had her first poem published at age 13 in the children’s section of The Globe newspaper.
She would later work as a telephone operator, a proofreader at The Owen Sound Sun Times and Toronto Telegram and as a writer and columnist for newspapers, magazines and newsletters.
She married Victor Fleming Wyllie in 1939 and the couple had three sons.
Her second son, Robert, drowned in 1968 at age 19.
Mrs. Wyllie belonged to numerous clubs and groups during her lifetime.
She founded in 1980 and was a lifelong member of the Grey-Bruce Writers’ Association, which still operates today.
She also served as president of the Owen Sound District Association for Retarded Children, renamed the Association of Community Living, in the 1950s and was a member of the Kilsyth Women’s Institute.
Her first book was published in 1974 and she would go on to have another nine books published, including an autobiography, My Nine Lives, by The Ginger Press for her 100th birthday. Multiple poems by Mrs. Wyllie have also been published.
Maryann Thomas, owner of The Ginger Press, said Mrs. Wyllie’s writings are very much historical pieces on the area; a look back at 100 years of community.
Mrs. Wyllie had a precise use of words, Thomas said, “and her recall was fabulous, right down to every detail.”
Niall, who met Mrs. Wyllie through the Grey-Bruce writer’s group, said her friend always wanted to be a writer and publisher.
“She loved to tell the stories of her life,” she said.
Fenwick said Mrs. Wyllie was still planning another book right up until the months before her death.
“She told great stories,” she said.
Mrs. Wyllie won an Owen Sound Cultural Award for achievement in literary arts in 2010.
A funeral for Mrs. Wyllie is scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m. at Central Westside United Church in Owen Sound. Visitation is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Mrs. Wyllie is survived by one son, George, and one grandson Christopher Greenan.