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It is with great sadness we announce that Marguerite Jane Wickersham Doritty, age 93, died on July 2, 2020 at Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg, following a brief pulmonary illness.
Marguerite had a long and dynamic life as an avid supporter of opera and the arts, a professional fundraiser and academic administrator, as well as a bird lover and bridge player extraordinaire. Daughter of Robert Cadwallader Wickersham and Ruby Little Wickersham, she was raised in Pittsburgh, PA in a happy and tumultuous family during the Great Depression and WWII. After graduating with a Diploma in Music from the Juilliard School of Music, she spent a decade in New York City, working at the Grand Central Art Galleries and in a formative position as the Director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council. In 1958, she moved to Buffalo, NY and married Peter Duane Knowles, an interior designer, had three children, and returned to work as the Director of the Concert Office in the Department of Music at the University at Buffalo, and later the Assistant to the Director of the Educational Communications Center at the University. In the 1980s, the couple relocated to Sarasota, Florida, where she became the Development Coordinator at the Sarasota Opera Association. After Knowles’ death in 1987, she returned to Buffalo as the Assistant Chair of the Department of Media Study at the University at Buffalo, known for a groundbreaking media arts program led by Dr. Gerald O’Grady, and from which she retired in 1996, shortly after completing her own interdisciplinary Master’s Degree in Media Study and Communication. In 1991, she was awarded the United University Professions Award for Excellence in Professional Service. Shortly after her retirement, she happily married Donald Doritty, a longtime friend, and emigrated to Canada, where she enjoyed two decades in Port Hope and Cobourg, ON, surrounded by family and many wonderful friends.
Marguerite’s extensive accomplishments as a volunteer include seven years as Chairman of the Member’s Advisory Council at the Albright Knox Art Gallery, a stint as the Vice President of the Board and President of the Women’s Committee of the Buffalo Philharmonic, 20 years as the District Chairman of the United Way of Erie County, and 40 years as the Great Lakes Regional Chair and Buffalo District Co-Director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Auditions. She was also a board member of Young Audiences of Western New York, the Media Arts Teachers Association, and Squeaky Wheel Media Arts Center.
She was particularly proud of her work raising millions of dollars from New York State as a founder and subsequently a board member of Homespace, a non profit organization designed to meet the needs of homeless teen parents, emerging as an outgrowth of Trinity Church of Buffalo’s Mission Committee. She also served on the Vestry and as Annual Fund Drive Chair at Trinity. In 2005, she was honored with a Founder’s Award by Homespace, Inc.
In Port Hope and Cobourg, Marguerite was deeply involved in St. Peter’s Anglican Church, where she was Chairman of the Communications Network, sat on the Parish Council, sang in the choir for many years and was a member of the bell choir. She was also on boards for the Port Hope Friends of Music and the Canadian Federation of University Women, Northumberland Chapter, and she continued to play bridge and scrabble recreationally through the spring. Marguerite loved to participate, to play, to serve, and to make the most of life.
Our mother was a force of nature and a loving and probing woman who encouraged us to do our best, to be a true friend, and to always be kind. She will be remembered as generous and honest, and always guided by love.
She is survived by her loving children Content Love, Meg, Alonzo and Alison Knowles, and grandchildren Teagan and Tucker; and her beloved Canadian family David and Ann Doritty, Paula and Tony Frost and grandchildren Robyn, Jonathan, and Michael, as well as numerous cousins from the Wickersham, Martin, McKnight and Lose families.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St Peter’s Anglican Church, Cobourg, to Homespace Corporation in Buffalo, NY, or to Squeaky Wheel Media Arts Center in Buffalo, NY.
A virtual memorial will be held on Sunday, July 12, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. Follow this link to attend: Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 854 3064 5532
An in-person memorial will be planned when it is safe to gather.
A Memorial Donation has been made to the following charity:
St. Peter's Anglican Church
The Board members and staff of Northumberland United Way would like to offer our most heartfelt sympathies for your loss. We have appreciated Mrs. Doritty’s generosity and commitment to the community over the years. Our thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.
To the whole family so sorry for the loss of your mother. I met Marguerite at the CFUW meetings. We were also in an investment group together. She was a wonderful lady and I am so happy that I got to meet her.
I had the pleasure of knowing Marguerite through a large group of friends, our mutual love of opera and our commitment to the Port Hope Friends of Music organization. She was a true lady and I only wish I had known her better. She will be missed by many. My most sincere condolences to her family.
We were fortunate to be friends with Marguerite whom we admired very much. Our condolences to her family at this difficult time. Our feelings can be summed up in the words of Scripture- "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord".
We were honored to count Marguerite as a friend over these past 20 years. She was a lovely hostess and an all round grand lady. She was a treasured member of St. Peter's choir with her extensive musical background. She also served tirelessly on the "Health Cabinet" in the early days of Parish nursing. I remember her honesty and positive attitude. She never said an unkind word about anyone!! We send our sincere condolences to her family. She will be truly missed but remembered with love.
I was very sorry to hear about Marguerite . She was a very kind and loving lady and will be missed by many friends in Port Hope and Cobourg. She was an excellent President of the Port Hope Probus and very much appreciated. I wish to extend my condolences to the family. You have lost of wonderful mother. Pat Goodyear
Wilma and Larry Austin, we will miss Marquerite her kindess and enjoying dinner's with her.
It was a pleasure and privilege to know Marguerite. I didn't know about all her achievements listed in her obituary. I loved playing bridge with her and exchanging knowing glances as she bid accurately describing her hand to her partner. She will be missed.
A wonderful kind caring and vibrant lady... she will be greatly missed. Our prayers will be offerred in her dear name.
A Memorial Donation has been made to the following charity:
St. Peter's Anglican Church
We were sorry to hear the news of Marguerite's death. We knew her especially through our shared love of opera, and were always struck by her deep knowledge and appreciation of the art. We will always remember her as a most charming and elegant lady, and will miss our intermission chats during performances in Toronto. With deepest condolences to her family, Merlin and Thais Donald
It is with great sadness that I read this announcement. However, Marguerite lived a wonderful life and I am very fortunate to have known her. We sat side by side in the alto section for a few years until she recently retired. That was my great pleasure. She will be missed and always remembered.
I was very sad to hear of Marguerite's death. She had been on my mind of late. I knew and grew fond of Marguerite while I was the Music Director at St. Peter's, 2008-2014. She was one of the kindest, classiest and wisest people I've ever met. In spite of her background, education and accomplishments there was never even the vaguest hint of any kind of snobbery or superiority in her. She was always down to earth and cared about all of us. Her kindness to me during severe illness will always be remembered with gratitude. Marguerite will be sorely missed on this earth, but I am greatly encouraged in knowing that she is without doubt rooting for us all on the other side!
I am so saddened by the passing of Marguerite but grateful she lived a beautiful life. I am very honoured for 20 years as her hairstylist. I feel like I know her family and the many visits to Buffalo, Texas, and of course the beloved cottage. I did speak to Marguerite in June and she had her appt as a VIP, in the first week after reopening. She always presented herself at her best, enjoying a wonderful, long and healthy life.
I will miss Marguerite! She always had a flair for fun and adventure. Conversation with her was thoughtful and heartwarming
To the Marguerite Dorrity Family We were so sorry to learn of Marguerite’s passing, and so thankful that she chose to join our community those many years ago. She was a loyal member of the ‘happy hour’ group… even though she had to get to choir practice on the same evening! As the Probus Club of Port Hope grew we learned to reckon with her keen mind, and in its 17th year, Marguerite was our President. We were honoured to know her. We hope that your memories, and the support of your family and friends, will give you some measure of comfort. Please accept our condolences. Erik & Una