Memorial: Marilyn Edwards (Leese)

Mon, Apr 1, 2024 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm

Celebrating the Life of Marilyn Edwards (Leese)


All family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and acquaintances of Marilyn are welcome and encouraged to attend an in-person gathering to remember Marilyn and commemorate her life.

WHERE: In person at the Vancouver Unitarian Sanctuary, conveniently located at 949 West 49th Ave (the northeast corner of Oak Street and 49th) in Vancouver. Access to venue here

WHEN: Monday, April 1, 2024, 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm (doors open 1:30 pm) followed by a reception until 4:30 pm

Free parking is available, parking and venue are wheelchair accessible.

*Please feel free to share this notice to all with a connection to Marilyn*

Marilyn Kathleen EDWARDS (LEESE)

May 28, 1937 – February 28, 2024

Born feisty in Vancouver on May 28, 1937, Marilyn Edwards (Leese) was the daughter of William and Kay (née Lindsay) Edwards (both deceased) and sister to Diane Weiser. Sadly, she passed away on February 28th, 2024 at Vancouver General Hospital following a Lymphoma diagnosis.

Marilyn married Robert Leese on March 13, 1957, and later divorced. Together they had three children. Mother to Jeff (Blair), Lindsay (Lee), and Grant (Kristi) and proud Grandmère to four grandchildren: Amber, Emma, Zoe, and Mason.

Marilyn was a high-achieving student at Britannia Secondary School in East Vancouver, followed by an invitation to dance with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal at 18. A lifelong learner, dedicated researcher and historian, Marilyn was passionate about the History of Early Indian Buddhism and earned a Ph.D. in Asian Art History from the University of Michigan in 1983.

She went on to receive awards, publish, speak at conferences, and hold Research, Associate & Faculty Positions at UBC, The Institute for Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA, Berkeley’s Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California. She was the President during the founding of The Centre for World Religions.

Marilyn had an entrepreneurial spirit. In her early twenties, she started a rainhat business, which helped finance her first trip around the world with her husband Bob and two children under five. Later, she was awarded funding which allowed her and her family to spend three years in Pune, India, where she (alongside then husband Bob, as photographer), documented the Kanheri Buddhist Caves.

Her deep and ongoing study of the cave sites of India was Marilyn’s lifelong “happy place.” Well into her 80’s, she delivered several guest speaker online talks at conferences related to her field of study to audiences around the world.

Immersed in Buddhism, Marilyn built on her sense of purpose by earning a Masters of Divinity from Vancouver School of Theology. She found community with the Vancouver and North Shore Unitarians and served as a lay chaplain at Holy Family Hospital. Marilyn trained and interned with Living Systems in Bowen Family Systems and provided counselling in North Vancouver. She found great support and friendships as a member of the Unitarian women’s group for 16 years and more recently the Buddhist Dharma Contemplation group.

A curious explorer and intrepid adventurer, Marilyn traveled the world over several times with her family, colleagues, and independently. Marilyn was known for her intellect, independent spirit, determination, and detailed memory. She was an aspirational dreamer, resourceful and resilient despite challenges, a lover of art, collecting, games, puns, and nurturing connections. Marilyn Kathleen Edwards (Leese) was one-of-a-kind. As she would say, “And, there you are”.


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