Marlene Stephen, 1947-2009
The piping community in Western Canada lost one of its leaders with the death of Marlene Stephen on Monday, January 19th, at the age of 61. Marlene was the President of the Prairie Pipe Band Association of Manitoba for a number of years, and was well known to pipe band association executives in North America and Scotland for her work in Manitoba, and with the Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations. One of Marlene’s proud moments was hosting an ANAPBA Summit in Winnipeg, and bringing the North American pipe band world to the prairies in winter.
Marlene held a Bachelor of Education and a Masters of Music Education, and she had a 41-year teaching career in Manitoba schools, which paralleled her long commitment to pipe bands and the Scottish community. She began playing the bagpipes as a young girl, and was a proud member of the Heather-Belle Ladies Pipe Band for 39 years, 21 as pipe-major. Under her leadership, the Heather-Belles travelled to compete in Scotland and across North America. In Scotland the band took prizes at several Highland Games over a couple of trips, including winning Best Ladies Pipe Band at the 1985 World Pipe Band Championships.
Marlene played leadership roles in many organizations, including the Winnipeg Scottish Festival, Bands on the Boardwalk Highland Games, Prairie Pipe Band Association of Manitoba, Rainbow Stage, Tempo Music Conference, International Music Camp, Manitoba Music Educators¹ Association, and Manitoba Highland Dancing Association.
Marlene was passionate about piping, dancing, pipe bands, music education, and her family. She was a determined organizer, and a champion of fair play and good sportsmanship at the games. Behind her school-teacher cadence and “you better not be late for massed bands” voice was a huge love of the culture and the music. She expressed that through her volunteer work, and her personal interest in the many children who passed through her classrooms, as music students, band members, or Highland Games participants.
The funeral will be on Saturday, January 24th, at 2 p.m. at Pantages Playhouse on Main Street in Winnipeg.
– submitted by Iain MacDonald, Regina, Saskatchewan