Departed Allisonians Summer 2023
Please feel welcome to submit memories of departed Allisonians you have known and loved and we will be happy to share short tributes.
Harold G. McGill — 1944
Dora Ulrick — 1944
Vernon Toole — 1944
Ruth M. (Fraser) Fowler — 1944
Helenbelle (Blenkhorn) Olafsen — 1944
Mary Jane (Prescott) MacDonald — 1944
Dr. Israel Karrel — 1944
Ida A. (McLean) Morris — 1944
Lois McNair — 1944
Norma (Allen) Simon — 1944
Kathleen Jones — 1945
John (Jack) D. Baig — 1946
Elizabeth M. (Harvey) Saunders — 1950
William M. Nauss — 1951
John C. Bourinot — 1953
Ruth (Boswell) Schiller — 1954
Firman Bentley — 1957
Harold R. Moss — 1959
William I. Mundle — 1959
Dr. Charles R. Tim Dean — 1960
Arthur Robert (Bob) Taylor — 1960
Wilbur G. Touchie — 1960
Sheldon M. MacDonald — 1961
Judith F. (Harrison) Hickey — 1963
Todd M. Reynolds — 1967
Robert W. MacNally — 1971
Darrell H. Fowler — 1972
Mary O. Greeno — 1973
Gloria Dale Jollymore — 1977
Suzanne Crawford — 1979
Paul G. Munn — 1982
Mia Elizabeth Ferguson — 2021
Freda (McLay) Heys
Margaret Beddoe Lawrence
George Firman Bentley (’57)
Submitted by his son Paul Roberts Bentley (’84)
George Firman Bentley passed away on February 2, 2023, in his 89th year. He graduated in 1957 with a Bachelor of Commerce and an Education degree. According to the Mount A yearbook, “Firm” always had “an ace up his sleeve,” but, like all of us, he eventually met his match.
Firman was an active participant in the Mount Allison community throughout his life. His wife Nancy Lee Roberts (’55), his sons Paul (’84) and Craig (’91) Bentley, his nephews David (’78) and Douglas (’80) Bentley, his daughter-in-law Jennifer Mahoney (’91), and his grand daughter-in-law, Alia Karim (’12), all attended Mount Allison due in no small part to his influence. Firman was also a member of the Mount Allison Board of Regents, and a recipient in 2002 of the Charles Frederick Allison Medal for his “outstanding contribution to Mount Allison University.”
This is the story of how he got to Mount A and how his education enabled him to make a significant contribution to Canadian life.
Firman was born on February 12, 1934, in Truro, NS. He received his pet name from a relative, “Firman McClure,” Liberal member of the Nova Scotia Parliament, and an active “Son of Temperance,” at the turn of the century!
The Bentleys were an old Planter family that left the British Isles for New England in the 17th century and eventually migrated north to Nova Scotia. Firman’s most ancient known ancestor, a certain William Bentley of Boston, was “impressed” into military service and fought for the Crown in King Phillips War, 1675! His grandfather and namesake, George E. Bentley, was a Master Mariner who built schooners in Port Greville on the Bay of Fundy and sailed the high seas.
Firman recalled that when he was just six years old, his Grandmother took him to see the wreck of one of the schooners, the T.K. Bentley. The ship lay on its side, abandoned and forlorn, in the Parrsboro Harbor. “All of my children were born on that boat,” she told him.
Amongst them was Firman’s father William Wilkinson Bentley, or “Wicks,” who with nineteen other siblings worked on the schooners (and apparently also some farm animals like the goat who was swept off-board during a storm, according to newspaper accounts). After grade eight, Wicks moved to Boston to apprentice as a tinsmith, but he was soon caught-up in the events of the Great War and joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He enjoyed telling Firman war stories, like the time he and a German soldier walked past each other while delivering messages through the trenches, and pretended not to notice.
Wicks was one of the lucky ones to return from the trenches, but not without injuries. He had a bullet hole through his calf and had to wash his eyes with Boracic acid every morning to treat the eye inflammation from a gas attack. His brother, Sergeant Marvin Bentley was not so lucky. He was killed in action on August 8th, 1918, during Canada’s famous “100 Days,” just a few months before the Armistice. When Firman’s own career took him back to Flander’s fields he went searching for Marvin’s grave.
Wicks finally settled in Truro where he started a general store, WW Bentley’s. Firman’s mother Hazel, who passed on an interest in the news to her son, was a fan of John G. Diefenbaker because he made a special visit to the store. This was likely to thank Wicks for his support that, as an example of the “pork-barrel politics” of the time, included placing a mickey of rum in the grocery bags of every Tory voter to be dutifully delivered by Firman door-to-door at election-time!
Firman’s father wanted him to stay in Truro and take over the store, but he and his mother had bigger plans. He remembers how she took him aside in their kitchen above the store one day and, handing him money, said: “You will go to University!”
Firman and Nancy Lee Roberts became sweethearts while he was studying at Mount A. They were married in the spring of 1957, a few days after his graduation, and not long after the ambitious pair of Maritimers boarded a train to “Upper Canada” where Firman took his first job in “Personnel” at CIL Paints.
Firman moved quickly from jobs with Imperial Tobacco and the Town of Burlington to take his place in 1964 with Sarnia’s Polymer (later renamed Polysar), a Canadian “multinational” that had such a critical role in the postwar Canadian economy it was featured on the $10 dollar bill! He held many important positions with Polysar including General Manager of the Antwerp plant in Belgium, Group Vice-President of European operations headquartered in Brussels, and Group Vice-President of North and South American operations. His career culminated in his appointment as President of Petrosar, a petrochemical subsidiary.
Indeed, Firman found his place in the history books for his role in building this Canadian multinational during the great era of the Crown Corporation. In Mathew Bellamy’s history of the company, Profiting the Crown, we find the following evidence of Firman’s success:
“By 1983 Polymer’s rubber operations were again the largest in the free world, with major production facilities in six different countries. A new class of senior managers — men like Firm Bentley — sent out directives to the various divisions emphasizing the need for growth in high value-added areas that offered attractive profit margins.”
Firman took particular delight when his duties included escorting the next great conservative Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, on a tour of the factory during the 1988 “free trade” election campaign. Firman recalled that when he expressed concern that the election might be lost, Mulroney responded in a whispered aside, “Leave the dirty politics to me.” Well, Firman never ventured himself into the political arena, preferring to stay within the business realm in which he had grown up. He always said he learned everything he knew about business from working at his father’s store!
On a personal note, as his son, I found myself most connected to my father through his interest in history — the stories of his childhood, the battlefield visits, listening to American Forces Radio on the way home from basketball practice in his Citroen — all these memories left such a lasting impression on me that I became a history teacher, completing a part of his career begun at Mount A but left unfinished.
Mia Elizabeth Ferguson (’21)
Submitted by friend Sarah Reeder (‘22)
Mia graduated from Mount Allison in 2021 after spending four years studying Fine Arts and Psychology. She spent most of her time on campus at the Purdy Crawford (the Purd) or the library studying and mingling with other students. These library visits, fun nights out and her bubbly personality allowed her to have a large social circle, knowing a handful of students in almost every faculty. Mia was a very gifted artist, in particular a painter and photographer.
Despite being only 5’3”, Mia was a fast walker which allowed her to bounce around campus. You could see her four times a day on campus in four different locations. She loved going to the gym and staying active. Mia loved spending time with friends, she was a frequent customer at Ducky’s and most likely your lifeguard at the campus pool!
Mia was diagnosed with brain cancer (glioblastoma) just before her final semester at MtA. She finished her degree online during the pandemic while going through extensive treatment. Mia was passionate about spreading awareness for brain cancer and helping others that have been or continue to be affected by a brain tumour.
Mia will be greatly missed by her friends and family. Her legacy remains with us in countless paintings, drawings, and photographs, in the memories of her infectious laugh and her care for others. To help carry out Mia’s memory, please consider donating to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.
Mount Allison expresses its deepest condolences to the family and friends of departed Allisonians. They have all played a part in the University’s story and their memory and accomplishments live on in the continued growth and evolution of our campus community.