Funeral services were held at Paperman and Sons last Sunday for Merle Margles, the wife of well known community activist, former TMR Councillor and one-time broadcaster Sidney Margles.
Merle, who ran the constituency office of former Mount Royal Liberal MP Sheila Finestone for 15 years, was married to Sidney for 53 years. They raised three daughters, who gave them six grandchildren.
Former Quebec Liberal MNA Paul Gérin-Lajoie may be recognized for his accomplishments as Minister of Youth as well as Minister of Education in the 1960s, he also played a role in Merle and Sidney walking down the aisle.
When Sidney first met Merle (née Elkin) in 1958, he was at McGill University and she was at Sir George Williams (precursor to Concordia University). They dated for a while but later went separate ways to focus on other interests.
Sidney spent time in Boston studying public relations. As far back as his teens, Sidney remembers “hanging out” at CJAD radio station. Addicted to the broadcast media, Sidney put aside his third year studies at McGill and accepted a full-time job opportunity in 1959 at CJAD. Sidney was a pioneer at CJAD in broadcasting live from the scene of air crashes, bombings, riots, fires and other events. He won numerous awards, the most notable being for the TCA air crash in Ste. Thérèse in 1963.
By the time he reconnected with Merle at the Gérin-Lajoie meeting, she was working full-time during the day and immersed in evening courses at Sir George Williams. Sidney was a seasoned news broadcaster. A romance blossomed and by the fall of 1962, the couple were engaged.
In 1974, Standard Broadcast News, formerly parent owner of CJAD, asked Sidney to head up the company’s news operation, based in Ottawa. A decade later they returned to Montreal.
Soon after their return, Finestone, offered Merle an administrative position. “I so remember the smile, good will and positive attitude that Merle always brought to everyone around her,” said Peter Finestone. “She made my mother, the riding and everyone who knew her better.”
Added Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein: “She was a mentor to me from my first days in politics with Sheila Finestone in the mid 1980s and has inspired us all ever since. Merle and Sid made the perfect pair always achieving their good work as an unstoppable team whose dedication and commitment to community was like none other.”
In 2005, the then empty nesters moved to Côte Saint-Luc. Sidney would serve two terms as president of the Senior Men’s Club, with Merle as his “first lady.” When Anthony Housefather decided he wanted to become the successor to Irwin Cotler as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, Sidney and Merle stepped forward to first run his campaign to get the nomination and then to win the election.
Merle fell ill a few years ago, but you would never have known it. She and Sidney missed some time at their beloved condo at Century Village in Deerfield, but everyone hoped and prayed that her treatment had been working. When she had to come home early last spring, this was not a good sign. It was clear from the funeral that even just a month ago she spent a great deal of time with her kids and grandchildren. She went to Ottawa to see one granddaughter off to camp and to New York to visit with another.
“My mom was always our teacher,” said daughter Elizabeth. “She taught us how to stand up for ourselves, be independent, loyal, resiliant and how to love.”