She was 10 years old when the phone rang and her mother was desperate. Secretary to Monsignor Clair at St Mary’s, Mrs. O’Connor’s anxious voice told Margie the church needed someone who could play the organ. Now. Quick!

So Margie O’Connor scurried over to old St Mary’s, on the hill, across from the convent on Mulcaster St. A few years later Margie was the proud owner of her newly minted music degree, the coveted A.R.C.T., and St. Mary’s was to benefit permanently.

Literally thousands of hymns, thousands of wedding marches, as many funeral services, and first communions... the parishers of St. Mary’s--in its ‘new’ Amelia St location since 1968--have benefitted for three generations from the musical prowess of Margie O’Connor Padfield. With 4000 families in the St. Mary’s parish, that’s easily 10-12,000 people whose lives have been enriched by Margie Padfield. From 1954 to 2004! Half a century.

As well as her private music practice, Margie has plied the keys for King Edward Choir for many years.

But it’s the beautiful, ageless hall of St Mary’s, (designed in the mid 60’s by Barrie architect, Harry Nesbitt) with several services on Saturdays and Sundays, where Margie Padfield’s musical skill has been most felt. While part of the old organ system came to the new place of workshop, Margie’s fingers graced a new console, on a cantilevered däis overlooking worshippers.

She has been directing the senior choir (the 10 am choir) and its practices for years. This means every Thursday and every Sunday is taken, regardless of anything else.

She has overseen the music for other masses at St. Mary’s, mentoring other musicians and other choirs.

With an average five services each week, plus devotional services, funerals (93 alone last year) and weddings (30-40 each year), Margie’s influence has been stellar. Not only that, her Eugenia St. home has always been alive with the sound of music, and Margie’s two daughters and two sons grew up under vast musical influence.

A vital, lively member of St. Mary’s, Margie’s retirement last week was triggered by her desire to join her retired husband, former school principal Gerry Padfield, at their Georgian Bay cottage. The church parish said thank you with a gift of an annual bursary to the St Joseph’s student going on to study music. What an honour it will be to win the Margie Padfield bursary! And in a more secular note, Margie received a Chapters gift certificate so she can feed her other interest.

What shoes there are, parked beside the organ at St. Mary’s. And they’re to be filled by Brian Frawley, new organist and music director and popular teacher at St. Joeseph’s High School. Welcome, Brian.

And Margie? Thanks! From your whole community, thanks!

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