Mary Lew Murray - Pomquet, Antigonish County.
Mary Lew passed away suddenly at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish on January 13, 2023, surrounded by loved ones. She was 75 years old.
Mary Lew was born and grew up in Truro, the daughter of Starr and Pegi Pattillo.
At a very early age she developed a special connection with animals, cats, dogs and horses, one that lasted her whole life. After graduating from Acadia University with a BA in English Literature in 1968, Mary Lew pursued her dream and spent ten months in England at the Fuller School of Equitation. This experience directly influenced her future career choice and helped develop the high standards she brought to her profession. After returning to Canada, she taught for brief period at Brookfield Junior High and boarded with Helen and Garth Densmore. The lessons she learned during those few months with the Densmores she carried with her through her life.
On the second last day of the sixties, she married Mac and returned with him to Kingston, Ontario. It was there that Mary Lew began her equine coaching career. In 1974, Mary Lew and Mac returned to Nova Scotia, eventually settling on their farm in Pomquet, Antigonish County, where they raised three wonderful children. For a number of years, Mary Lew managed the horse show at the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition and was the driving force behind the creation of the Antigonish Saddle Club. In 1992, Mary Lew established Fairwind Farm Equestrian Centre, when a new indoor riding arena allowed her to operate her business year-round.
Over the past 55 years Mary Lew has coached and mentored hundreds of riders from ages 5 to 75 across Nova Scotia, in Kingston Ontario and St. John’s, Newfoundland. Many of these students have become long term, cherished friends. She’s received coaching excellence awards both provincially and from Equine Canada. As a teacher and coach, Mary Lew was one of a kind. She would never, ever teach a lesson without wearing breeches and riding boots. Every student, from absolute beginner to advanced dressage riders, received 100% of her attention and experienced exactly the same consistently kind and encouraging instruction.
She had no hidden agendas. In every case, her primary concern was the welfare of the horse. Over the years she developed an uncanny ability to quickly pinpoint the correction that was needed to allow the horse and rider to work more effectively together. She believed deeply that horses should be allowed to be horses.
Mary Lew was also a skilled rider and for many years had great success showing her favourite horses - Frosty, Naneek, and Daxter - across the province, primarily in the dressage ring. She rode regularly up until a few days before her passing.
Mary Lew also showed her athletic ability in other areas. At Acadia, she played three years of varsity field hockey and was chosen as the Most Valuable Player in her senior year. In her 50s Mary Lew took up running and participated in many of the Johnny Miles 5K events. When she was 70, she won gold medals in the 100 and 200m sprints at the 55+ Games National Championships in Saint John.
Mary Lew was a faithful fan of the Toronto Blue Jays and Raptors and an enthusiastic curler on Sunday nights at the Highlander Club. She was an avid reader and crossworder. She liked to have CBC Radio playing continuously in the background. Her chocolate chip cookies are famous.
A great many cats and dogs felt the warmth of her affection over the years. Rosie, Dilly, Nora, and Luna will miss her very much. Mary Lew loved her children, her grandchildren, and her extended family deeply and unconditionally.
Mary Lew is survived by Mac, her husband of 53 years, her biggest fan and very best friend; sons, Peter (Jennifer), Halifax; and Mike (Becky), Halifax/ Dominican Republic; daughter, Sarah McKenna (Matt), Pomquet; grandchildren, Isaac, Aiden, Wil, Molly, and Callie; sisters, Gay Pearson (Jud) and Barb MacLeod; brothers, Tom Pattillo and John Pattillo (Kim); in-laws, nieces, and nephews.
She was predeceased by her parents; sister, Ann MacAdam; niece, Trish Pearson; and sister-in-law, Margaret Christie.
Cremation has taken place under the direction of C.L. Curry Funeral Home, Antigonish. In lieu of flowers, donations in Mary Lew’s memory may be made to a charity of one’s choice. On-line condolences: www.clcurry.com.
Mary Lew’s friends and friends of the family will be coming together for a celebration of her life at the Fr. P.J. Baccardax Hall, 1034 Monk’s Head Road, Pomquet from 1-4 pm on Saturday, January 21st. This will be an opportunity to spend time together sharing memories and reminiscing on a life well lived.