When longtime Chemistry employee Viola Martin passed away last November at the age of 47, her friends and colleagues at the university immediately began discussing ways to memorialize her on campus.
“We knew we wanted to do something and when I saw a memory bench on Coronation Street I thought it was a lovely idea,” said Bonita Smith. “We agreed that it would be nice to have a bench in front of the Chemistry-Physics building to remember Viola. She came in that front door every morning to go to work. She loved flowers so we put a flowerbed there as well.”
To bring it all together, the women worked with a number of units across the university including Technical Services, which built the bench and made the plaque, and Facilities Management, which installed the bench and created the flowerbed.
“The overwhelming support from both divisions was greatly appreciated,” said Ms. Smith. “We would not have been able to do this without them.”
To cover the cost, Viola’s colleagues accepted donations and sold tickets across campus on a framed print donated by artist Joan Squires, a retired chemistry staff member. Anne Sheppard, a chemistry employee, won the print.
On September 30th, Chemistry faculty and staff also participated in the CIBC Run for the Cure in Viola’s memory. Their two teams, Viola’s ChemiGals and Equilibri-men, raised almost $7,500, with the ChemiGals taking home the post-secondary challenge top individual fundraiser award for St. John’s. Faculty member Erika Merschrod, raised more than $1,400 alone.