Former University of Lethbridge employee creates legacy of supporting students

During her 20-year career at the University of Lethbridge, the late Mary Wood helped many students who came through the doors of the Scholarships and Student Finance office. By all accounts, she loved working with students and, after her retirement, was delighted when they recognized and greeted her when they saw her on the street.

Wood passed away in April of 2021 and part of her legacy was a bequest of more than $33,500 to the Central Scholarship Fund of the University’s Campaign for Students. The University’s Board of Governors will match the donation from Wood’s estate as part of its $10-million pledge in matching funds to establish new endowed student awards.

“Bequests like this allow donors to make significant contributions to organizations that matter to them, which may not be possible otherwise,” says Kathy Greenwood, vice-president external relations. “We are so pleased to be matching Mary’s gift and creating a legacy in her name that will benefit future generations of students. This endowed scholarship will ensure her kindness and support will continue to have an impact on the lives of our students as they pursue post-secondary education.”

Born in Edinburgh, Wood had a great sense of adventure and loved to travel. She visited London, went backpacking through Europe and visited New Zealand and Australia before moving to Canada. Her co-workers recall Wood was both dedicated to her job and a joy to work with.

“Mary was a sweet and kind person,” says Heather Anderson, a former colleague. “She was dedicated in helping the many students that came through the doors. Working at the University, our offices were side by side and we shared the lunch room. We all enjoyed each other’s company and had many laughs. I consider myself fortunate to have known her.”

“Mary and I shared the same office years ago at the University. Students were her biggest priority and she was always kind and helpful,” says Chris Lastuka. “She always had a smile on her face and would break into uncontrollable giggles at the drop of a hat. She was one of a kind and our loss is heaven’s gain.”

Outside of her work at the University, Wood was an active soldier in the Salvation Army Community Church who was involved in the youth ministry and a member of the Songsters. There she got to know Marcella Klein, someone who eventually became a lifelong friend. In her later years, when it became apparent she had difficulty managing her own affairs, Klein stepped in and made sure she was well taken care of.

“She was someone who was so well loved by the people she met,” says Klein. “She was a fun-loving person who tried to bring joy to so many people and I think she was able to do that through her volunteer work at St. Michael’s Health Care Centre, the Canadian Cancer Society and with Cub Scouts. She was a treasure.”

The ULethbridge Campaign for Students aims to significantly enhance the sustainability of its student awards program and build a base of support to remove barriers, increase accessibility and unlock opportunities for future generations of students.