05 April 2008

Requiescat in Pace: Corinne McLuhan, 1912-2008

Corinne McLuhan, the widow of Marshall McLuhan, passed away yesterday, just a week shy of her 96th birthday. The death notice reads:

Died peacefully of natural causes at her home in Wychwood Park surrounded by her family. She was the beloved and loving wife and confidante of the late Marshall McLuhan (1980); dear sister of the late Carolyn Lewis Weinman (1996); devoted and loving mother of Eric (Sabina Ellis), Mary, Teri, Stephanie (Niels Ortved), Elizabeth (Don Myers), and Michael (Danuta Valleau); proud grandmother of Jennifer Colton Theut, Emily McLuhan Boms, Anna and Andrew McLuhan, Claire and Madeleine McLuhan Myers, Arthur, Mark, and Gwendolyn McLuhan; and great-grandmother of Olivia, Charlotte, and Gillian.

Corinne was known for her beauty, grace, intelligence, wit, and Southern charm. She embraced life fully and enjoyed many rich experiences and wonderful friendships along the way. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Corinne proudly remained an American all her life. She graduated from Texas Christian University and went on to do graduate work in theatre at the leading drama school of the day, Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California. It was there that she met her future husband, Marshall McLuhan, a graduate student at Cambridge University in England, who had travelled to Pasadena to visit his mother, a drama coach at the Playhouse.

The family wishes to extend its heartfelt thanks to Dr. Wendy Brown for her years of unflagging and tender care, and to special caregivers Sally, Bona, Tasie, Amy, and particularly Cynthia, who has stayed at Corinne's side day and night for the last four years. There will be a funeral mass at Holy Rosary Church, 354 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto on Monday, April 7, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. Interment Holy Cross Cemetery. Arrangements entrusted to the Turner & Porter Yorke Chapel, 416-767-3153.

My experience of Corinne was indeed that of a gracious, warm and lovely woman. During the controversy over publishing of McLuhan for Managers, driven largely by those zealously guarding the business interests of the Marshall McLuhan estate, it was Corinne who saw Derrick's and my authentic intent to further Marshall's thinking in an area to which he, himself aspired, but couldn't quite fully achieve as I think he desired (according to Eric). It was Corinne's direct intervention that finally enabled my book to be published, and for that I will be ever grateful to her.

Marshall has been waiting a long time in heaven to be joined by his loving wife. May her memory be as much of a blessing as was his.

Update (20 April 2008: Here is the obituary from the Globe and Mail.

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