This is a wonderful day. I have never seen this one before. – Maya Angelou
In a time of profound change and loss for so many people around the world, Allan Maynard takes comfort in small blessings. On this day the sun shines as he tends to hundreds of dahlia bulbs that will burst with colour in his backyard later in the summer.
“It’s so satisfying when the garden finally comes together,” Allan says. “It’s a dedication to Margrit—I’m just following what she taught me to do.”
Allan (MSc ’72, BSc ’71) and Margrit (PDP ’70) were married for almost 51 years before her passing from Alzheimer’s disease in March. A cherished wife, mother, grandmother, artist and elementary school teacher, she is remembered for her creativity, warmth, inquisitiveness, spontaneity, and big, beautiful smile.
“She was so enthusiastic about teaching, about people, about life,” Allan says.
Margrit was deeply aware of the many ways in which other people helped enrich her journey, he explains, and her joyous, grateful outlook on the world inspired all who knew her.
A charter alumnus, Allan was in his second year at SFU when his cousin introduced him to Margrit. She was living on her family’s often struggling farm in Cloverdale and contemplating a career in the trades.
With Allan’s encouragement, her summer and part-time jobs, and critical support from student bursaries, Margrit attended SFU to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher.
“We both really benefitted from being educated at SFU,” he says. “It was a radical campus, with great activism and ideas. At that time, environmental issues were at the forefront. Rachel Carson had published Silent Spring, rivers were catching on fire because of industrial pollution—I became very passionate about environmental science. Coincidentally science graduates were sought after, creating many opportunities.
“Margrit had the same kind of experience. The Faculty of Education was very innovative and well-respected, and she came away with really unique ways of looking at learning.”
She would go on to pursue a fulfilling career teaching kindergarten through grade four, blending art and science into her lessons. One popular project saw students create ‘coffee table books’ on subjects like space with pop-up rocket ships and other items.
“She was a real favourite!” he says proudly. “Some of her students’ parents mentioned that they still have those books.”
Allan, meanwhile, was a consultant and later an analytical chemist before co-founding ASL Analytical Service Laboratories, which became one of Canada’s largest and most widely respected environmental science laboratories. It was later acquired by Australian-based ALS Global.
Together, they raised a son and daughter—both graduates of SFU—and adored their six grandchildren. They enjoyed spending time on Salt Spring Island and travelled extensively in Europe, Central America, Southeast Asia, Mexico, North Africa and Hawaii until 2018, well after Margrit’s diagnosis.
“We didn’t leave a lot of things undone,” says Allan. “It gives me comfort.”
Reflecting upon their values, lifelong friendships and all that they experienced and achieved individually and as partners, he expresses deep appreciation for their engagement with the university.
Allan’s firm was one of the first to bring on SFU co-op students as the program was being developed. He also served on the SFU Alumni Association Board of Directors, including as its president, and received the SFU Outstanding Alumni Award for Professional Achievement in 1995.
The Maynards established a bursary to support Indigenous students in SFU’s Faculty of Education, and Allan has bequeathed a gift in his will to ensure its continuation.
“Margrit and I were both very grateful people—it’s just our way,” he says. “We recognized the value of our education and the success we had because of it, and knew we wanted to give back.”
The Maynards’ vision and generosity ensures that future generations will have opportunities to thrive through an SFU education.