Rolland (Rolly) Murray Fox was born March 22, 1935 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Rolly was the third of nine children born to Rodney Fox and Bertha (Shale) Fox. The early years were difficult financially for the large Fox family resulting in Rolly, at the youthful age of 9, calling Saint Michael and All Angels Church his home for 2 years.
He would get a taste of the west coast when he attended a cadet camp in Abbotsford, B.C. Rolly would meet Betty Lou Wark on Winnipeg’s busiest and coldest intersection, Portage and Main, and they would marry in 1956. The following year their first child Fred was born, Terry would arrive in 1958, Darrell would follow 4 years later and finally Judith, the daughter Betty wanted, completed the Fox family in 1965. Rolly would begin a 36 year career with CN Rail in 1954. Working outside in the harsh Manitoba winters prompted Rolly to consider raising his family in a warmer climate. The Fox family would make the move to Surrey, B.C. in 1966 where they rented a house. With the move Rolly would lose 12 years seniority at CN and would have to start fresh in his new role as switchman on Vancouver’s north shore.
In 1968 they would purchase 3337 Morrill St in Port Coquitlam which would be the family home for the next 16 years. Rolly and Betty insisted on good behaviour, good manners, that their children should respect their elders and to speak only when spoken to. Rolly was a competitor, he despised losing, whether it was a simple card game or rough wrestling in the living room – he was determined to win at all costs a trait successfully passed on to his children. In early 1977 son Terry would be diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Rolly was devastated and bitter thinking that life had delivered an unfair and cruel turn – Rolly would say he wished he could change places with his son and he meant it. It is well known that Betty reacted negatively when Terry delivered the news that he was going to run across the country – knowing the will of his son Rolly simply said “when?”.
When Terry died in 1981, Rolly and Betty were forced into roles neither were expecting or educated for but they had an endless passion for their son and inherently understood his values and vision. Betty was the public figure sharing Terry’s story – Rolly was the pillar of strength and support who was always close behind. He had a serious side but place him in front of a room full of friends and family and get ready to be entertained by an unscripted performance. He would evolve over the years from someone who was scrupulous with his money to a man who wanted to give to others regardless of the financial implications.
Loneliness arrived in Rolly’s life with the passing of his wife Betty in 2011 after 54 years of marriage. Rolly went almost overnight from a homebody to a man never at home. He would meet Janet Shields during this time who was also experiencing loss with the passing of her husband. They would marry in the spring of 2013 – there was no denying Rolly’s happiness the last few years.
Rolly was diagnosed with lung cancer, stage 4, in January. He was not devastated or bitter, accepted it quickly, fulfilling a promise to Terry of being strong and positive. It may have been his plan to give those around him these last few weeks a legion of memories to last a lifetime.
Rolly is survived by his lovely wife Janet, three children Fred(Theresa), Darrell(Bonnie), and Judith, step children Gary, Stephen and Joanne, nine grandchildren, Terrance(Melissa), Kirsten, Erin(Matthew), Jessica, Sarah, DJ, Tianna, Alexandra, and Connor, brothers, Rod, Terry and Doug, sisters, Nancy, Barbara and Jeanine.
A “Farewell Party” will be held at 11:00 am, Saturday, March 19th at Terry Fox Theatre 1260 Riverwood Gate, Port Coquitlam. Please email your interest in attending the service to firstname.lastname@example.org. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to The Terry Fox Foundation Online at: terryfox.org. Mail to: The Terry Fox Foundation, #150-8960 University Street, Port Coquitlam, V5A 4Y6: Call 1-888-836-9786.