Marsha HANEN
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Obituary of Marsha HANEN

HANEN, Marsha P., C.M., formerly President of the University of Winnipeg, President of the Board of the Victoria Symphony, Professor of Philosophy and Dean of General Studies at the University of Calgary, died peacefully at home with family in Victoria on Saturday, April 13, 2019, after living for an extended time with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.


Born in Calgary, Alberta, in 1936, Marsha's life was influenced by the theme of education connected to leadership, community, and culture from the very beginning. Her parents, both child immigrants from Russian shtetls (via Winnipeg), were instrumental in the founding and ongoing life of the I.L. Peretz School, a Jewish day and community extension school that sought to keep alive a rich Yiddish culture while also providing a modern Canadian primary education. Music played a strong role in her early days, as she studied piano and worked as an accompanist, and began the lifelong habit of enjoying as many concerts as possible in the midst of a busy academic and family life.


In 1955 she and Harold Hanen married in Calgary then traveled to Wisconsin where he joined the Taliesin Fellowship to apprentice under renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Soon they had a daughter, and plans for university study, which led Marsha to Brown (AB, MA), the University of Pennsylvania, and Brandeis (PhD). Now with a second daughter, in 1966 she returned with her husband and children to her hometown and took a teaching position in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Calgary. In her twenty-three year career there, she grew into professorship and into leadership roles, last as the second Dean of the innovative Faculty of General Studies which she'd co-founded. She also made lifelong friendships, including during memorable sabbaticals in the 1970s for research in London, England and a Fellowship in Law and Philosophy at Harvard University. Her wide-ranging interests in higher education and social justice, from philosophy of law to feminist theory, brought her to lead many initiatives encouraging interdisciplinary studies and more accessible educational opportunities. She also published books and papers, often in partnership with colleagues, and became an exceptional mentor to many scholars and students, including young women breaking career barriers.


In 1989 she moved to Winnipeg, with Robert (Bob) Weyant, the same year as they made their "marriage of true minds" official, to take the position of President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Winnipeg (Bob took the unofficial role of "First Gentleman"). She was one of the first women in prominent leadership roles in higher education, or indeed in many fields. She committed her decade there to support of inclusive undergraduate arts and science education, investment in a vibrant campus cultural life, and preparing the community for a complex, collaborative future. In recognition of the lasting legacy of her work for the university, Spence Street, the pedestrianized campus corridor she advocated for, was named Marsha Hanen Way in 2018. During her time in Winnipeg, her three grandchildren came into the world and became another great joy of her life and Bob's.


Her next move was to Victoria, already a second home after years of relaxing breaks there. Rather than retiring, she accepted the role of President of the Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership where from 1999-2006 she brought leaders, thinkers, and community members together to engage with challenging issues affecting the future of civil society. She also became involved with the Victoria Symphony, and served as President of the Board of Directors, Chair of the Search Committee that brought new musical director Christian Kluxen to Victoria, and supporter of the careers of women in music. The work was an enormous satisfaction of her last years, and infused it with more life-enriching music and relationships.


Through the years, additional recognition and honours included the Y.W.C.A. Woman of the Year in Education, the Canada 125 Medal, the anthology Woman as Artist: Papers in Honour of Marsha Hanen, the Manitoba Award of Excellence in Education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, induction as a Member of the Order of Canada, an Honorary Doctor of Laws from York University, and Honourary Life Member of the Victoria Symphony Society.


Every place she lived, worked, and contributed to the community, there was always a piano, a colourful garden, CBC Music on the radio, something nice to drink, a stash of chocolate, wonderful travel plans (Peru, Botswana, Morocco...), and the delight of time with friends and close family.


Marsha is survived by her brother Ron, her daughters Amy and Sharon, her daughter-in-law Shari, her stepsons Stephen and David, her grandchildren Benson, Anna, and Austin. She was predeceased by her parents Rowena and Ben Pearlman, by her first husband Harold Hanen, and in 2017 by her husband Robert (Bob) Weyant.


Burial will take place at Royal Oak Burial Park, 4673 Falaise Drive, Victoria at 3pm on Thursday, Apr 18, 2019. All those who wish to join the family are welcome there, and also invited to gather from 5pm-7pm to share memories at the Wedgewood Estates clubhouse, 2829 Arbutus Road, Victoria.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Marsha's memory to The Victoria Symphony Society, the charitable organization of the donor's choice.


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Graveside Service

3:00 pm
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Royal Oak Burial Park
4673 Falaise Drive
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
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