Died Victoria, BC, December 27, 2019 in her 95th year.

Born in England to Moyra (Browne) and Guy P.L. Drake-Brockman. She grew up in the Republic of Ireland. Survived by her loving sons Dominick (Ellinor), Andrew (Maureen), Christopher (Ruth) and Sean; grandsons Robert (Kashena), Matthew (Sarah), and Benjamin (Katherine) and six great-grandchildren.  Predeceased by her twin brother Guy.

With family roots in Canada, Ireland and the U.K., Marcia was evacuated to Montreal at the beginning of WWII.  In 1942, aged 17, she returned to England with a trans-Atlantic convoy, a perilous, weeks long trip.

She promptly joined the WRNS on arrival in England. Within a week of reporting, she volunteered for “arduous, boring, extremely confidential duties”.  These duties turned out to be operating the machines that broke the German Enigma Codes; work so secret that she never described her service, even to her husband, until the 1980’s after being released from the Official Secrets Act.  She was proud to receive her Bletchley Pin and War Medal in recognition of her service only recently.

Marrying Lieutenant Charles M. Williams (Canadian Army) in 1944, she returned to Canada in 1946 and raised her sons in Grand Mere and later Westmount, PQ.  While working at the Douglas Hospital, in Montreal, she pioneered community living for mental health patients founding Newstart, a group dedicated to this work.

In 1983, she relocated to Victoria.  There, the mild winters allowed her mother from County Mayo, Eire to join her for her own final years. Marcia was active in the community, joining many causes involving support for the disadvantaged including church outreach programs, and Woodwynn Farms.  Since 2015, she has lived at the Cridge Seniors Centre where, at age 90 she organized Pay-It-Forward, a scholarship fund for First Nations women.

An activist, avid gardener, voracious reader and devoted parishioner of St. John the Divine Anglican Church, she remained active and engaged to the very end.

The family wish to convey their gratitude to Marcia’s wide support network including her many friends, her church, the Royal Jubilee Hospital and most particularly the entire staff and fellow residents of “The Cridge” for their kindness and friendship during her four years of residence.

Cremation has taken place. Memorial Service at St John the Divine Church, 1611 Quadra Street, Victoria, B.C. to be held Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at 2:00 pm. All are welcome.

Donations, in lieu of flowers, are welcomed, payable to Cridge Seniors Centre, attn. Accounting Department referencing “Pay it Forward” C/O The Cridge Seniors Centre, 1307 Hillside Avenue, Victoria B.C. V8T 0A2 or to a charity of your choice.

Condolences may be offered to the family below.

McCall Gardens
www.mccallgardens.com

 

 

  • Professor Sue Black OBE

    It was such a pleasure to speak to Marcia several years ago, what an incredible woman. Not only for her work at Bletchley Park but also all of her subsequent work helping single mums and others in the community. I felt a real bond with Marcia having come from a difficult background myself and caring deeply about people who hadn’t had access to the most opportunities in life. It sounds like she lived her best life and served others well which in my mind is the most that we can do. What a great pioneer and role model. My deepest condolences to Marcia’s family and friends.

  • Melanie Clarance

    I have always been fascinated by the World War II stories of the scores of mathematically gifted British women handpicked by their government to assist Alan Turing in Top Secret decoding efforts at Bletchley Park.

    These highly capable women helped decode encrypted Nazi messages, as portrayed in the famous movie “Enigma,” named after the decoding machine (also apparently, lovingly nicknamed “the Bombe”). 

    When I found out, once the timeline for the Official Secrets Act was lifted, that our dear friend, Andy Williams’ mother, Marcia Williams, had then revealed to her family that she had worked during the war years at Bletchley Park, I was in awe. 

    As the intertwining of lives around the world sometimes goes in life, at exactly the same time, I was conversing “over the pond” via Twitter with Dr. Sue Black, an English PhD mathematician and activist who virtually singlehandedly sparked and saw through a fundraising and awareness campaign to NOT allow  Bletchley Park to fall further into disrepair and to instead to have it memorialized forever, paying homage to all whom had worked there and thusly had contributed to the winning of the war.

    Further, Sue recorded her efforts in “Saving Bletchley Park,” a great book I was just reading. Sue received the Order of the British Empire for all her hard work surrounding Bletchley.

    I was lucky enough to be able to introduce Dr. Sue Black of the U.K. to Marcia Williams of Victoria, BC , kindness of Andy, over the ether.

    In one email, Dr. Sue Black provided photographic proof that the future Marcia Williams, then a young Marcia Drake-Brockman, had, at age 17, worked at Stanmore Field Office (related to Bletchley) as a “Numbers Girl,” aka a Bombe Operator. In fact, Thanks to Sue, Marcia was able to see her name indelibly carved in Bletchley written history alongside the Electro-mechanical machine (Bombe) used in decryption of Enigma signals. 

    Andy and I were then lucky enough to arrange an overseas telephone conversation with Dr. Sue Black and Marcia; it turns out the two women had much more in common than just Bletchley Park. Coincidentally, both women had also initiated their own separate missions to help single mothers raise themselves out of poverty and into self reliance, through adult education.

    I am delighted Marcia was recognized for her war efforts at Bletchley and for her adult educational work at the Cridge Centre.

    In closing, however, it seemed Marcia saw her most coveted role as that of being a mother to her sons. This was exemplified by Marcia endIng one email to me, her sly, self deprecating wit abounding, with these words,, “… …But I am not sure that Andy will have made it clear that I was a mere peon in the scheme of things:…Real secrecy  rather strangely confers a  degree of romanticism in the past tense that I’m by no means sure is entirely deserved!

    Thank you again….

    .:::all the interest so many years  later is strangely 
    touching.

    Very best wishes,

    Sincerely,

    Marcia Williams, Andy’s mother – my real claim to fame!)”

  • SUSAN LODWICK MONTREAL

    SENDING ALL MY LOVE. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN WORDS ARE INSUFFICIENT. GOD BLESS YOU. MARCIA WAS A HUGE PART OF MY LIFE, SO IMPORTANT TO ME. THINKING OF YOU.

  • William Goodrich

    In 1972, Chris William, Marcia’s third son, took me to visit her over the Christmas holiday in Montreal. She impressed me with her intellect, her outspokenly liberal views and her mincemeat pie!

    Over the years I’ve had the honor and pleasure to be in contact with her, most recently in Victoria, where she was when we last spoke in May.

    She was perhaps one of the greatest of the Great Generation and will continue to inspire all who knew her to be better people, more compassionate and never lazy intellectually. We will miss her a lot.

  • Sarah Smith

    Marcia was a smart, funny, delightful woman. Her emails made me pull out my thesaurus often, and absolutely made me better my vocabulary in my replies.
    Marcia was an encourager. A past manager herself, she was able to see the behind the scenes work that not everyone notices, and would comment and express her appreciation in ways that made me feel truly seen. I will forever cherish her letters and cards.
    She was treasured and will be greatly missed.

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